Glencore Plc, the world’s top commodities trader, named copper and cobalt industry veteran Kalidas Madhavpeddi as its new chairman, completing a raft of leadership changes at the company.
Madhavpeddi has worked in the mining industry for more than 40 years, including spending a decade as chief executive officer of China Molybdenum International. Glencore gains a new chairman with extensive experience of working in the Democratic Republic of Congo, home to some of the company’s key mines, and someone who has worked closely with China for years.
The appointment of Madhavpeddi highlights the weight Glencore is placing on its giant cobalt and copper operations in Congo as it looks to end coal mining in the next 30 years. Like Glencore, the new chairman has championed the metals, which are key to the electric-vehicle revolution.
The latest appointment concludes the overhaul of Glencore’s top management over the past few years. Tony Hayward’s departure as chairman, which was flagged earlier this year, comes just one week after Gary Nagle replaced billionaire Ivan Glasenberg as CEO.
The new chairman joins as Glencore navigates an array of challenges. The company is facing several probes, including from the U.S. Department of Justice for possible money laundering and corruption, while questions also continue about the future of its sprawling coal business.
Madhavpeddi has been championing cobalt, a key battery-making ingredient, since the middle of the last decade. He proclaimed an exciting future for the metal as he led CMOC, as China Molybdenum is known, into Congo, when it bought one of the world’s biggest cobalt and copper mines for $2.65 billion.
That vision is shared at Glencore, which has spent billions of dollars developing its own cobalt and copper mines in the African country. The commodities giant sees them as one of its key profit drivers going forward as the company looks to cash in on the green energy transition. Glencore has vowed to become carbon neutral by 2050, the only major miner to do so.
Glencore is currently the world’s No. 1 cobalt producer, running the Katanga mine in Congo, and plans to reopen a second operation in the country next year.
Madhavpeddi was also a keen dealmaker at CMOC. As much of the mining industry fought for its survival during the 2015 and 2016 commodity crash, the company went on a spending spree, buying assets from Freeport-McMoRan Inc. and Anglo American Plc.
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Hayward’s departure follows a raft of changes at the top of Glencore. Most of the generation that led the company to its 2011 flotation have left in recent years, while younger executives Kenny Ives and Nico Paraskevas, who had been seen as potential candidates for the CEO job, also departed after Nagle was named as Glasenberg’s successor.
Hayward, the former CEO of BP Plc, has been chairman since 2013, a period longer than recommended under U.K. governance code. Still, the board had extended his stay to oversee the wider management changes.
“I am very pleased that the board has appointed Kalidas as my successor,” Hayward said in a statement Monday. “His history of working in the resources industry and familiarity of operating across the globe provides excellent experience for this appointment.”
Madhavpeddi, who joined Glencore’s board last year, also spent more than 25 years at U.S. miner Phelps Dodge, and is currently a non-executive director at Novagold Resources Inc. He will start as Glencore chairman at the end of this month.