HOTLINE: Another miner on the philanthropy trail

Vedanta chairman Anil Agarwal has joined the mining philanthropists hall of fame.

Vedanta chairman Anil Agarwal has joined the mining philanthropists hall of fame.

Last week, Agarwal pledged 75% of his fortune – about $3.5 billion according to some estimates – to charity, media reports said. The announcement was made as copper and zinc producer Vedanta Resources marked the tenth anniversary of its listing on the London Stock Exchange.

“Our London listing has played a very important role in building Vedanta into the company it is today and we believe that it will be a significant part of the group’s future,” Agarwal said in a statement.

Some media reports said that the pledge makes Agarwal India’s biggest corporate donor.

On the philanthropy front, Agarwal has company in Africa, where the group has significant stakes. In 2013, Patrice Motsepe, founder of African Rainbow Minerals, pledged half his wealth of $2.65 billion at the time to charity.

In 10 years, Vedanta has invested $20 billion in projects including mines and other facilities, growing the company’s total output by a factor of ten in copper equivalent terms, Agarwal said this year.

All has not gone smoothly for the company though.

In an interview last year, Agarwal rued investing $8 billion on an aluminium complex in India.

He has since expressed hope that the new government “was looking favourably at developing the natural resources sector”.

In Africa, Vedanta’s other big market, there are more issues.

A video was posted on YouTube last year in which Agarwal claimed Konkola Copper Mines has been “giving back” at least $500 million a year since it bought the mine for $25 million in 2005.

His comments triggered a wave of criticism in the Zambian press and prompted a preliminary investigation into whether KCM had been under-reporting profits to the country’s tax authorities. 

Vedanta must be hoping the good deed brings it some respite.

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