With operations in over 25 countries, BHP Billiton is one of the world’s largest mining companies. Two years ago the company was rated one of the top twenty most carbon polluting companies.
The mining giant has also been involved in several environmental disasters such as the Ok Tedi mine disaster in Papua New Guinea, and most recently the Bento Rodrigues (Samarco) dam disaster, which has been called the biggest environmental disaster in Brazil’s history. The dam failure and ensuing flooding resulted in thousands of people losing their livelihoods and being made homeless, while drinking water was contaminated leaving hundreds of thousands of people without their usual potable water supply.
Leticia from Brazil attended BHP’s annual general meeting (AGM) in Brisbane today to ask the directors and board whether they would update their mining equipment in Brazil.
Watch to see how CEO Andrew Mackenzie responds:
His response implies that they didn’t foresee that this could happen, however there is evidence that there were problems with the dam decades before the disaster.
Adam attended the AGM to give a voice to the Aboriginal Community in South Australia who are impacted by the Olympic Dam uranium mining operation. He asked the board about BHP’s submission to the South Australian Royal Commission to have uranium mining removed from being listed as a Matter of National Environmental Significance. This would mean uranium mines would not require an environmental impact statement.
Watch to see the poor answers and lack of respect from chairman Jac Nassar and Andrew Mackenzie:
Having displayed a disastrous lack of care for people and the environment, it’s not surprising shareholders were worried about BHP’s contribution to runaway climate change. BHP is a current member of the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA), an aggressive lobby group which lobbies for fossil fuel extraction to the detriment of the climate. In the USA, Exxon is currently being investigated by the New York Attorney general for funding lobbyists while knowing about climate change. BHP is acting similarly in Australia; it acknowledges that climate change is real, yet spends large amounts of money on the MCA. BHP does not disclose how much money it spends on the MCA, yet it is thought to be in the order of $4 million annually. When asked how much BHP are spending on the MCA, this is how they responded:
In a follow up question a shareholder asked why BHP would waste shareholder money on the MCA when ‘BHP only speaks on behalf of BHP.’
Look what happens when the board is pushed into a corner:
If you don’t like what this company is doing, now is your chance to take action!
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Australia’s big four banks – ANZ, CommBank, NAB and Westpac – have together loaned over $1 billion to BHP Billiton since 2008.
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