IVAN Glasenberg, the billionaire boss of commodity giant Glencore, has launched a blistering attack on mining industry executives, saying they have “really screwed up”.
He told investors that industry CEOs made the “catastrophic” decision to over-invest in new mines, pushing down prices at the expense of shareholder returns.
“We’ve always been wanting to keep building and keep putting the cash which we generate into new assets,” he said. “That’s what we’ve got to stop doing as a mining industry. We’ve got to learn about demand and supply.”
Glencore is in the process of merging with mining company Xstrata and Glasenberg is set to be chief executive of the combined business.
He insisted that his company would be happy to delay expansion: “We will get better returns on our investments, we will be able to kick out more cash to our shareholders. We will be late to invest. So, who cares? We’ll be late and we’ll have to invest in five years’ time.”
Glasenberg’s comments follow a slew of boardroom changes at FTSE 100 miners. Last week BHP Billiton’s Marius Kloppers announced his retirement, following the recent exits of Anglo American’s Cynthia Carroll, Rio Tinto’s Tom Albanese, and the planned departure of Xstrata’s Mick Davis.