Albanese presided over multiple human rights violations while serving as Rio Tinto CEO, and was finally forced to leave in 2011 following the disastrous $44 billion dollar decision to merge with Alcan in 2007 that had written off $9 billion, followed by the failed Mozambique coal deal (see previous article on this website). Guy Elliot has exercised considerable influence over India’s mineral policy, telling Indian decisions-makers it should include a fast-track clearance procedure, and allow ‘security of tenure’, i.e. grant long-term lease rights to foreign mining companies in a speech at the India-UK Business Leaders’ Forum in June 2006.
On 6th March Tom Albanese, the former Rio Tinto CEO, was appointed CEO of Vedanta Resources, replacing M S Mehta. The newspapers are billing his appointment as an attempt to ‘polish the rough edges off [Anil] Agarwal’s Vedanta’ and to save the company from its current crisis of share price slumps, regulatory delays and widespread community resistance to their operations. This article looks at Albanese’s chequered history and the blood remaining on his hands as CEO of Rio Tinto – one of the most infamously abusive mining companies.
The Financial Times notes the importance of his ‘fixer’ role, noting that:
The quietly spoken and affable geologist is seen as someone willing to throw himself into engaging with governments and communities in some of the “difficult” countries where miners increasingly operate. That is something that Vedanta is seen as desperately needing – not least in India itself. Mr Albanese may lack experience in the country but one analyst says that can give him the opportunity to present himself as a clean pair of hands who will run mines to global standards…“There’s a big hill to climb there” Mr Albanese said.(1)
Last week several articles were published in the Zambian media reporting on a press briefing held by Vedanta executive Tom Albanese following a ‘closed door meeting’ he held with Labour and Social Security Minister Fackson Shamenda in Lusaka, Zambia, on the 7th February. Mr Albanese met with the Minister to refute claims made in Foil Vedanta‘s report ‘Copper Colonialism: Vedanta-KCM and the copper loot of Zambia‘, released to the Zambian press on January 31st. The report demonstrated that, contrary to their claims, Vedanta’s subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) are making considerable profit in Zambia and are guilty of casualising the labour force as well as causing severe environmental damage.
We want to respond to some of the claims made by Mr Albanese, and present more evidence of Vedanta’s campaign of misinformation here.