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Mining giant Glencore eyes shiny future from electric vehicles

2017-08-11 09:45

Image: AFP / Fabrice Coffrini

Zurich - Mining and commodities giant Glencore said Thursday (August 10) it had bounced back into profit in the first half of the year and the long-term outlook was good as the widespread adoption of electric vehicles would boost demand for raw materials.

Net profit at the Switzerland-based company came in at $2.4-billion compared to a loss of $369 million in the first half of 2016 on the back of a rebound in commodity prices and efforts by the firm to clean up its balance sheet.

Towering debt

When commodity prices nosedived in 2015, investors turned on Glencore amid concerns that the company's towering debt, which had hit $30-billion, could prove unsustainable with the value of its assets in decline.

The company's losses hit a staggering $5-billion that year.

Chief executive Ivan Glasenberg, seen as a maverick in the mining world, acted boldly to get debt under control.

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He scrapped dividends, sold assets and reined in production in a campaign that has now trimmed debt to $13.9-billion.

Glasenberg said in a statement: "Our extensive efforts to reposition our balance sheet and drive further industrial asset portfolio improvements over the last 24 months, are reflected in our strong first-half financial performance."

Not only net profit improved, but its measure of operating profits also jumped by over two-thirds to $6.7-billion.

Large-scale roll out of electric vehicles

Glasenberg said the shift towards electric vehicles would be good for Glencore.

The South African-born CEO said: "As we look forward, the potential large-scale roll out of electric vehicles and energy storage systems looks set to unlock material new sources of demand for enabling underlying commodities, including copper, cobalt, zinc and nickel."

US electric carmaker Tesla last month began delivering its Model 3 to customers.

The vehicle is its first mass market vehicle, which it wants to produce at a rate of 10 000 per week by next year. 

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