European Copper Imports Violate Human Rights in Peru

27 September 2023

This article is by Facing Finance - lead member of the Fair Finance Germany coalition

European Copper Imports Violate Human Rights in Peru

Investors Must Pressure Europe's Leading Copper Company Aurubis


The European supply chain law (CSDDD) is coming under massive fire from lobbyists representing large corporations and financial institutions. In fact, the copper group Aurubis shows that we instead need a strengthening of the due diligence obligations of corporations for their supply chain. Despite repeated calls from civil society and shareholders for transparency, Aurubis still refuses to disclose which South American mines its copper concentrate comes from. Aurubis' argument that it cannot name its suppliers for competitive and contractual reasons is currently crumbling. Investors and financiers of Aurubis now have a responsibility to finally ensure transparency.

Transparency as a prerequisite to check the supply chain

The lack of transparency of corporations like Aurubis prevents possible human rights violations and environmental destruction from being concretely assigned, pursued, and finally remedied. Only if the supply chains are transparent, independent organizations can verify the sustainability claims of the corporations in order to investigate possible cases of non-compliance with due diligence obligations regarding the environment and human rights. The mining sector is considered a high-risk sector, especially copper mining. South American copper mines, from which Aurubis obtains or has obtained copper concentrate, have repeatedly attracted attention due to environmental and human rights violationsHighly dangerous concentrations of arsenic, lead, chromium and mercury in the blood and urine of local residents; imprisonment and torture of protesters at company sites; police violence against local residentsgreatly increased cancer rates; droughts caused by increased water usecontamination of soils by heavy metals; corruptionlack of environmental audits; and forced relocations. Yet, at this year's Annual General Meeting, Aurubis CEO Harings proclaimed, "We don't need a supply chain law."

"Write to your bank" campaign reinforces demand for transparency

Aurubis' argument for not naming its suppliers and mines has so far always been competitive and contractual reasons. But this argument is crumbling. Copper producer Gold Fields Perú has named Aurubis as its main copper customer in its annual reports. It seems that it is rather Aurubis that gives importance to not being named - and not the suppliers. Aurubis itself confirms upon request that its suppliers do not put pressure against the publication of Aurubis' supplier base.

To reinforce the demand for transparency, we - a broad group of civil society organizations, including from Germany (where Aurubis is headquartered) and Peru (where Aurubis buys copper concentrate) - are now reaching out to Aurubis' investors and funders. Therefore, we are launching a "Call-To-Action", where bank customers can send a letter to Aurubis' funders and investors - such as Commerzbank, Allianz, BNP Paribas, Amundi, UniCredit, Deutsche Bank, ING, and German state banks - urging them to advocate for transparency at Aurubis before its next annual general meeting in February 2024.

Copper is key for the energy transition and requires responsible import

As the largest copper company in Europe, Aurubis plays a crucial role in supplying copper to Europe, which is essential for the energy transition. Therefore, the German government has granted Aurubis' suppliers over one billion euros in loans in recent years to support Aurubis as a major buyer: 459 million euros for a Peruvian copper mine, 138 million euros for a US copper mine, and 409 million euros for a Chilean copper mine, which is facing charges of environmental destruction. However, so far, Aurubis has not lived up to its significant responsibility to import the copper needed for the energy transition in a socially just and sustainable way. Instead of denying human-made climate change like longtime Chairman Vahrenholt, the leadership at Aurubis should now ensure transparent and sustainable supply chains. This transformation urgently requires engagement of Aurubis' investors and funders.

Find out more about the campaign.

“Write to Your Bank!”