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Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg attends a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 6, 2019. 

MAXIM SHEMETOV/Reuters

The COVID-19 pandemic could affect the timing of Glencore Chief Executive Ivan Glasenberg’s departure from the mining and trading company, he told Swiss paper NZZ.

Glasenberg, who has been chief executive since 2002, has overseen a turbulent period for the group, with a broader change in senior managers over the past two years spurred in part by multiple investigations into the company over alleged bribery and corruption.

He has said he plans to step down once a new management team is in place and last year suggested that his successor could be in place some time this year.

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Speaking to NZZ, he said the pandemic could now affect the transition.

“I want to introduce my successor to customers,” he said in the interview published on Thursday. “But to do so we will have to be able to travel again.”

Glasenberg said he has no plans to join the company’s board once he leaves his post, adding that he plans to keep his nearly 10 per cent stake in the group.

“The next CEO shouldn’t have a shadow hanging over him,” Glasenberg said. “I’m confident, because it will be an internal successor who has worked under me for many years and whom I trust.”

Glencore has recently contended with challenges from a series of mine fatalities to a strike at a coal mine in Colombia and climate politics.

Despite pressure from investors and environmental groups over the company’s coal activities, Glencore has no plans to sell or spin off its coal businesses, Glasenberg said.

“If the world still needs coal, the question arises: would global emissions be reduced if Glencore sold its coal mines to a Chinese company or someone else? Probably not. So we’re keeping the coal mines and phasing them out,” he said.

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“If we sell the mines and another company uses them, we’re not saving the world.”

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