Investors representing £12trn are to publish a list of extractives companies that have failed to disclose information on their mine tailings storage facilities in spite of an investor ultimatum issued in April.
It will be a first step in a process of “focused” engagement with the companies that have snubbed the request from investors, who are collaborating on setting up a global database on how mining companies are storing their toxic waste.
‘I would imagine by the end of the year very few will not have disclosed’ – Adam Matthews, Church of England Pensions Board
In April, the Church of England Pensions Board and the Swedish Council on Ethics – which advises and represents the AP Funds – wrote to 683 listed mining companies on behalf of 96 investors, demanding full disclosure on mine waste storage facilities following the Brumadinho dam disaster in Brazil earlier this year, which saw the collapse of a mine, killing 270 people.
Tailings dams contain the toxic residue from mining activities, but there is no record of how many of these storage facilities exist, or if they pose a safety risk to surrounding communities.
Adam Matthews, Director of Ethics and Engagement at the Church of England Pensions Board, told RI there was “total clarity from investors that companies should be providing this information, and similar requests are being made in the banking and insurance sector”. “I would imagine by the end of the year very few will not have disclosed,” he added.
“We’re mindful that we’ve asked for a lot of information in a short space of time and that it’s difficult for some smaller operators, but at the same time this is quite an urgent issue.”
The list, to be published on Friday, will also include the names of the firms that have responded to the request, including details on which companies have tailings facilities, which have disclosed in the right format, and those that have asked for extra time.Mining majors including Anglo American, Barrick Gold, Newmont Goldcorp, BHP Group, Freeport McMoRan and Glencore responded to the request on Friday.
Barrick Gold, Glencore, Anglo American, Newmont Goldcorp and Freeport Gold all revealed that some of their facilities had failed to be confirmed as stable by an engineer at least once. Many said the issues had since been remediated.
Matthews said: “We’re definitely getting a line of sight on which companies own which facilities, particularly among the 40 largest.”
He said the initiative expected to make further disclosure requests from companies in the future, as well as broadening its focus private and state-owned companies.
The Investor Mining and Safety Initiative met this week in London to discuss working with independent partners to create a “global, transparent and publicly accessible database” of tailings dams.
Barrick Gold, Glencore, Anglo American, Newmont Goldcorp and Freeport Gold revealed some facilities had failed to be confirmed as stable by an engineer at least once.
The database would be hosted by an academic partner and integrate additional information from independent parties and a satellite monitoring company with the mining companies’ disclosures.
Matthews said the governance and financing of the project was still under discussion, but that members of the initiative were in conversation with a group of partners and with governments.
An announcement confirming more details of the arrangement will be made in the coming months.