November 18, 2019
Last year, Prairie Mining Ltd chair Ian Middlemas was singled out by the Guardian as a director that may be struggling to understand his legal obligation to consider the risks that climate change poses to the business.
Middlemas’ statements at Prairie Mining’s 2018 annual general meeting showed the board lacked the appetite to even discuss the topic: “It’s like if you have a toddler at home and someone asks which university will he go to, well the answer is we will work it out when he is 18… There are a thousand things we have to consider before we consider that.”
One year on, and not much has changed. There’s still no disclosure about climate change in the Prairie Mining’s annual reports, and this was a clear concern for shareholders at today’s AGM in Perth.
When asked whether the company had undertaken analysis of the viability of its assets under a carbon-constrained scenario, Middlemas insisted it was a “moot point.”
“We are so far from mining coal… at the moment we’re at litigation with the Polish government and the chances of mining coal is pretty low. So no, we haven’t spent any money on stress testing or done any other studies.”
Regardless of litigation, climate change risks still need to be explored. The climate science supporting the Paris Agreement requires that OECD countries like Poland and Australia stop burning coal for electricity by 2030, and this will have obvious impacts for the coal Prairie wants to start mining in Poland.
Material business risk
Seeking to clarify whether climate change posed a financial risk to the business, a shareholder asked why Prairie Mining hadn’t disclosed that risk in the Operating and Financial Review in line with ASIC’s 2018 report.
The board reiterated that it didn’t deem it important to classify climate change as a financial risk to the business, effectively side-stepping a key obligation of its directors.
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