The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) is commenting on the Rio Tinto annual general meeting, which was held today in Melbourne, at which Rio Tinto faced questions about issues at its QIT Madagascar Minerals (QMM) minerals sands mine in Madagascar and its approach to climate change.
Rio Tinto failed to disclose voting results at the meeting.
James Fitzgerald, Legal Counsel at the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) said:
“The board received probing questions about long-standing and escalating grievances of communities affected by QMM’s Madagascan mineral sand mining operation.
“The response of outgoing Chair Simon Thompson conveyed a concerning lack of willingness to accept accountability, and raises more questions than it answers.
“According to Thompson, everything but QMM’s mining operation is causing water pollution issues. The cognitive dissonance by attributing this to the boom in fertility rates, the local farming practices and the Madagascan authorities beggars belief.
“QMM is in danger of losing its social licence to operate. The situation in Madagascar appears to represent another failure resulting from Rio Tinto’s degraded social performance function.
“Rio Tinto is urged to take immediate steps to resolve the community’s short- and longer-term grievances in a just and respectful way, and consistently with its own published standards.
“Shareholders and institutional investors are urged to keep a watchful eye on this operation.”
Dan Gocher, Director of Climate & Environment at the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) said:
“While shareholder support for Rio Tinto’s Climate Action Plan is likely to be strong, the company must improve its climate-related advocacy, including support for carbon pricing, if it’s to have any chance of meeting its 2030 and 2050 net zero emissions targets.
“Rio Tinto’s withdrawal from the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) took far too long, and companies like BHP, Origin Energy and South32 should follow suit. The QRC remains one of the most obstructive industry associations on climate and energy policy in the world.
“Despite CEO Jakob Stausholm signing the International Council of Mining and Metals (ICMM) net zero statement which encourages targets be set for Scope 3 emissions, Rio Tinto has failed to commit to when it would announce such targets.”
ACCR filed and subsequently withdrew a shareholder resolution to Rio Tinto in February, calling on the company to suspend membership of industry associations that continue to advocate for the development of new and expanded coal mines.