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F&C Investments, Mining and Commodities

  1. In 2012, tensions were mounting between the unionized miners in South Africa and the mining companies, this disagreement came to a head in August when 44 miners were killed in a violent encounter with the police. This event resulted in work stoppages and closures of mines across the country. F&C engaged with several mining companies, including Anglo American, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Impala Platinum, and Lonmin, to open a dialog surrounding proactive solutions to this problem. F&C also reached out to South African investors in the belief that these grievances between the workers and the mining companies could be aided by the collective initiative by asset holders to bring this issue to the forefront of discussion and push for a solution. Following these measures, there has been active movement as companies have begun implementing practical changes in communications with union officials, engaging with government, and working with other companies to find the most effective and positive measures to deal with these labour controversies.
  2. Due to the untimely culmination of a series of unfortunate environmental and political factors combined with the ‘financialisaton’ of the commodities market, 2011-2012 saw a crisis emerging in relation to the soaring prices of food. Noting this, F&C engaged with 29 companies across the commodities value chain, such as Glencore International, Cargill and IOI Corp to discuss four main issues:
    • Establishing comprehensive commodities strategies, with clear board oversight
    • Developing policies and systems to improve yields and minimise wastage
    • Managing relationships between players at different stages of the value chain
    • Improving food security by enhancing regulation

    The outcome of these discussions, which included 18 one-on-one meetings, was the discovery that most companies had a lack of risk management procedures, minimizing waste is a critical issues to all parts of the value chain, and there is a lack of investment in storage facilities and transport which is one of the leading issues in the sustainable supply of commodities.