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Letter to Financial Times – No change for Zambians, except to see others getting rich

Sir, As “Investors flock to Glencore IPO” (April 6) one part of the world at least is not overjoyed at the news. In Zambia, where the copper industry was privatised in 2000 under pressure from the IMF, the country has seen precious little return to the Zambian treasury from the country’s largest asset.

Even with the copper price at historic highs, the estimated $7bn of exported copper realises only a fraction of that in taxes due to long-term development agreements, made with the disgraced Chiluba government. Now ordinary Zambians see some of those same assets rolled up into an IPO and re-sold to investors at vast profit to the privateers who have contributed little to the Zambian economy.

To add insult to to injury, in the Copperbelt town of Mufulira, where Glencore owns 73 per cent of the Mopani Copper Mines, sulphur pollution averages between 30 and 70 times the limit set by the Environmental Council of Zambia and the WHO.

So, despite the good news for Glencore shareholders – no change in Zambia, no comment from the FT.