10 months ago • 2 mins
Commodities titan Glencore announced on Wednesday that it dug its way to a sensational profit last year.
What does this mean?
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered pandemonium in commodity markets last year, and the wild price swings that followed served Glencore riches on a silver platter: the firm’s trading division managed to clock up its biggest-ever profit in 2022. Coal was the real money-maker, though. Glencore chose to keep mining the world's dirtiest fuel while competitors kicked the habit – a decision that paid off handsomely when Europe’s winter stockpiling helped push coal prices to record levels. And those ultra-high prices meant that more than half of Glencore’s record profit – up 60% on the year before – was down to those little lucrative black lumps. That put a smile on shareholders’ faces, but what really got them beaming was Glencore’s record $7.1 billion dividend and share buyback plan.
Why should I care?
Zooming in: Pivoting time.
Coal may have been Glencore’s star performer last year, but eco-conscious investors are putting pressure on the firm to stop mining the black stuff when its current deposits run out. And that might not be a bad move: barring another energy crisis, demand for coal is only set to drop from now on, and Glencore has other irons in the fire anyway. The firm's got some of the world’s best copper, nickel, and cobalt mines – precisely the metals the global energy transition requires.
The bigger picture: Greenish.
You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs – and it turns out you can't hit net zero without some not-so-green moves, like digging 5.2 billion tons of metal from the earth's core by 2050. See, party-pooping analysts have been warning the world that scaling up wind energy, solar energy, and EV production will actually require far more metals and minerals than old-school, combustion-powered tech.
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