Copper company disregards human rights and rejects transparency in its supply chain
• Aurubis fires 3 of 4 managers including CEO due to theft of millions
• Nevertheless, the shareholders are not allowed to vote on the management
• Human rights violations and environmental destruction in Aurubis’ supply chain
• Supply Chain Act complaint regarding imports from illegal mine in Panama
• Online event on February 14th from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m
Nine non-governmental organizations are criticizing Aurubis for not allowing shareholders to vote on the dismissal of management at the Annual General Meeting on February 15th. This criticism comes in the wake of a number of serious incidents, including the dismissal of management, the loss of millions in damages caused by gang fraud, human rights violations in the supply chain, and an industrial accident at the Hamburg factory resulting in three deaths, which Aurubis downplayed as an 'incident in the area of occupational safety."
In December 2023, the board reported a metal shortage worth 169 million euros due to thefts at the Hamburg factory. Now, three out of the four managers have been dismissed. However, shareholders may not have the opportunity to vote on the recently ousted management. "In light of the managers termination, it is crucial for them to provide a detailed account at the general meeting, allowing shareholders to decide whether to dismiss them or not," demands Markus Dufner from the umbrella organization of critical shareholders. Despite the significant financial shortfall and ongoing investigations into the thefts, Aurubis is now considering approving the payout of millions in dividends.
“Aurubis serves as a negative example of shareholder culture in Germany”, according to Luca Schiewe from Facing Finance. “The company denies its shareholders the right to vote on the dismissal of 'management and hinders an active shareholder culture through exclusively virtual general meetings. Furthermore, Aurubis restricts shareholders from gaining insight into its supplier relationships.” Transparency is crucial for shareholders to assess supply chain risks, which, in Aurubis' case, encompass not only social and ecological risks but also financial risks, including reputational and regulatory risks.
Supply chain law complaint highlights risks in Aurubis’ supply chains
These issues are currently evident in a complaint filed under the German Supply Chain Act concerning Aurubis' copper imports from Panama. The Romero Initiative (CIR) successfully demonstrated that Aurubis procured copper ore from the controversial Cobre Panamá mining project owned by the Canadian company FQM. Operating without a contract and therefore illegally in a nature reserve since 2017, the mine has been the cause of significant environmental damage, according to Panamanian environmental activist Gilberto Cholo García. The mine operator has extensively polluted rivers crucial for local communities' livelihoods. Following nationwide protests, a court ordered the mine's closure. García criticizes the company for employing delaying tactics. "Aurubis must promptly terminate its supply relationships and provide compensation to the affected communities," demands Christian Wimberger from the CIR. He adds, "Funds should be allocated for long-term water samples and health checks.”
Bring transparency to the supply chain
Transparency is a prerequisite for shareholders or NGOs to accurately analyze supply chain risks and verify Aurubis' sustainability claims. However, Aurubis steadfastly refuses to disclose the sources of its copper ore mines. Even interested shareholders or sustainability rating agencies lack insight into Aurubis' supplier relationships, despite assurances of confidentiality. Through its lack of transparency, Aurubis obstructs the prosecution of massive environmental and human rights violations in Latin American copper mines. Local communities continue to endure contaminated soil, elevated cancer rates, corruption, forced relocations, and the torture of protesters on company premises.
For instance, in the Peruvian province of Espinar, the environmental authority has determined that Glencore’s copper mine, likely also a supplier to Aurubis, is responsible for water and soil pollution (see Fair Finance Peru's recent report on this here), as reported by Vanessa Schaeffer Manrique from the Archdiocese of Freiburg. Even in Europe, at the Bulgarian Aurubis plant in Pirdop, the company disregards the local population. "They are not included in decision-making processes that affect them," says Ulf Georgiew from the umbrella organization of critical shareholders. "Aurubis must take responsibility for the victims of the Sacrifice Zones in Pirdop”.
Aurubis's important position requires responsible action
As the largest copper company in Europe, Aurubis plays a crucial role in the supply of copper, which is indispensable for the energy transition, among other things. However, Aurubis has not yet fulfilled its significant responsibility to import the required copper in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. Instead of denying man-made climate change and lobbying for fossil fuels, as longtime Chairman of the Supervisory Board Fritz Vahrenholt did, the Aurubis management should now prioritize ensuring transparent and sustainable supply chains. Civil society organizations are urging shareholders to vote for transparency in the supply chain at the general meeting.
Online event “Copper, colonialism, crime: Aurubis AG and its supply chains” on the evening before the general meeting
On February 14th from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Facing Finance, Campaign Mining Peru, Goliathwatch, CIR and umbrella organization Critical Shareholders will inform shareholders about the upcoming Aurubis general meeting and its critical supply chains.
Also present: environmental activist Cholo García from Panama, who reports on the effects of an illegally operated mine from which Aurubis purchased copper. Registration by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Countermotions to the Annual General Meeting
Read more on the devastating impacts of Glencore's - a likely suppler of Aurubis - copper mine in Espinar in Peru here.
For more information, contact
Markus Dufner, Dachverband der Kritischen Aktionärinnen und Aktionäre, Tel. 0221 / 599 56 47, Mobil-Tel. 0173 – 713 52 37, email@example.com