It’s a classic ongoing struggle between two behemoths in the mining industry. For years, Glencore and Teck have been embroiled in a tug-of-war over access to resources and market share. This age-old conflict between these two players is a perfect example of the complex issues the mining industry faces. It’s not just a simple case of who will come out on top, but a battle between environmental sustainability, competition and regulation that encapsulates the issues facing the mining sector today.
1. Stalemate: Glencore & Teck’s Tug-of-War
- In November 2019, two giants in Canadian business, Teck and Glencore, came to a sudden stalemate.
- The two companies were locked in a battle to appoint two new board members — each of them refusing to compromise.
Glencore’s Position: Long before the events of November, Glencore had already apppointed two of their own candidates to the board. Glencore’s wish was for the two new members to also be appointed from their own ranks — solidifying their authority over the company.
Teck’s Retort: Teck, on the other hand, was determined to add two of their own representatives onto the board. This conflict between the two resulted in a deadlock, risking a full-blown war if there was no resolution.
The weeks following this stalemate saw many meetings but no compromise — and the situation only growing more tense. The future of the board of directors, and ultimately the management of the company, hung in the balance.
2. Mining’s Existential Dilemma
Mining is an industry that sits upon an uncomfortable needle: its success can be great, while simultaneously posing a threat to the environment. It’s an industry with an existential dilemma.
Its importance as a resource provider is hard to ignore; many of our essential goods today have been extracted from the earth. But with that extraction has come a heavy cost: pollution, deforestation, and ecological damage. While workers in the industry can reap great financial gains, they risk ingesting hazardous materials and breathing air saturated with the byproducts of mining.
This dilemma becomes especially pronounced in countries with a weaker regulatory infrastructure. Without legislation to ensure strict mining regulations, companies can operate with little concern for the consequences.
Solutions to this existential dilemma can be enacted with careful consideration for impacted communities. Here are a few of them:
- Enforcing universal safety standards in all mining operations;
- Creating incentives for the industry to be sustainable;
- Developing environmentally friendly extraction methods;
- And more.
Only with a commitment to better mining practices can a balance between responsible extraction and environmental protection can be achieved.
3. Wrestling with Over-Extraction
Water over-extraction is a major issue for many water resources around the globe, and to wrestle with this issue, there are multiple strategies that can be put in place:
- Reducing Demand: This is one of the most viable approaches to over-extraction, as it limits the amount of water resources needed for any given activity. This can be done in a variety of ways such as reducing water usage through efficient water-saving strategies, implementing water conservation programs, and establishing water-rationing systems.
- Increasing Groundwater Recharge: Recharging water back into the ground helps replenish the water source and can help stop overextraction. This process can be done through a variety of measures such as creating artificial aquifers, building rain collection systems, and utilizing stormwater runoff.
Furthermore, it is crucial to use advanced technology such as remote sensing and monitoring equipment to better identify and assess ground and surface water reserves. This way, we can better understand where and how much water needs to be extracted without overstepping sustainable levels.
4. Searching for a Compromise
Sometimes in life, it’s not a matter of identifying one option to solve a problem, but finding a middle ground between two people in a difficult conversation. Compromise is key for resolving conflict in a healthy and affirming way. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to reach a peaceful agreement when tensions are high.
Compromise requires understanding the perspective of the other party, as well as a willingness to negotiate the terms. Don’t be too attached to a specific outcome, or become frustrated if it doesn’t go your way. It’s important to consider different aspects of the situation, and to focus on the shared end-goal: resolution. Here are a few tips to help you work towards a compromise:
- View the situation as objectively as possible. Try to understand both points of view and how they got to where they are.
- Practice communication techniques. Listening, non-interrupting, and validating are all important skills to practice.
- Be aware of your limits. You only have so much energy to give, without overextending or sacrificing your own wellbeing.
- Be open-minded. Maybe you have a different solution in mind that you haven’t considered. Maybe what you thought was impossible is, in fact, possible.
- Compromise for the sake of cooperation. You don’t have to agree on everything. Compromising allows the relationship to remain strong, despite differences in opinion.
By following these guidelines, you’ll be able to come to an understanding, while maintaining respect within the relationship. Compromise isn’t always easy, but it can help you build bridges with those who don’t always agree with you. The tug-of-war between two of the largest mining companies in the world is a representation of the complex decisions that the mining industry faces on a daily basis. As investors weigh the pros and cons of investment, it’s easy to see how the fundamentals of mining challenge investors in today’s market. The complexities of mining law and sustainable practices will continue to challenge miners for years to come, and it’s clear that Glencore and Teck’s battle is only a microcosm of the larger issues in mining.