SEC allows Newmont Mining to Block NYC Pension Funds' Environmental ResolutionPublished by MAC on 2005-04-06
Thompson: SEC allows Newmont Mining to Block NYC Pension Funds' Environmental Resolution
April 6, 2005
Contact: Laura Rivera, (212) 669-2701, email@example.com
New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. today faulted the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) staff decision allowing Newmont Mining, Inc. to omit a shareholder resolution submitted by New York City's five pension systems. The resolution called on Newmont Mining to review its policies concerning toxic waste disposal at its mining operation in Indonesia.
"I am disappointed by the decision of the SEC's staff to allow Newmont to keep our resolution off the ballot at the annual shareholder meeting," Thompson said. "By stating that it would take no action if Newmont Mining refused to allow the resolution to go forward for a vote, the SEC is permitting the company to deprive shareholders of an opportunity to hold Newmont Mining's management accountable for illegal toxic waste dumping in Indonesia. As shareholders, we are concerned about the reputational risks and share value as a result of Newmont Mining's actions in Indonesia. I will continue to pursue this issue and will ask that trustees of our pension systems resubmit the resolution this fall."
In November, the New York City Employees' Retirement System (NYCERS), the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS), the Police Pension Fund, the Fire Department Pension Fund and the Board of Education Retirement System (BERS) submitted the resolution to the Denver, Colorado-based company, which has operations in Indonesia. The funds have 1,469,818 shares worth $68.53 million in Newmont Mining.
The resolution urged "management to review its policies concerning waste disposal at its mining operations in Indonesia, with a particular reference to potential environmental and public health risks incurred by the company by these policies, and to report to shareholders on the finding of this review."
By its own admission, Newmont Mining has released 33 tons of mercury into the air and water in Indonesia over the last five years. A recent study by Indonesia's Ministry of the Environment found that arsenic levels in the seabed adjacent to Newmont's operations were one hundred times higher than in other coastal waters. Additionally, the company utilizes the controversial submarine tailings disposal, a method in which finely ground, processed ore is pumped into the offshore seabed.
In March, the Indonesian government filed a $133.6 million lawsuit against Newmont, demanding environmental and health damages. Just two weeks ago, six Newmont executives were ordered to appear before a prosecutor after Indonesia's Supreme Court gave the go-ahead to continue a criminal probe of the gold mining company.
Newmont asked the SEC to allow it to omit the funds' resolution; the SEC recently agreed with the companys position. The Comptroller and the funds requested reconsideration of that decision, and the SEC denied that request.
"We will continue to monitor the issue, and to consider possible further steps, with particular attention to the environmental and public health risks that Newmont Mining's actions pose in Indonesia, which also pose a financial risk to shareholders," Thompson said.
The trustees of the city's five pension boards are:
New York City Fire Department Pension Fund: Comptroller Thompson, Mayor Michael Bloomberg; New York City Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta (Chair); New York City Finance Commissioner Martha E. Stark; Stephen Cassidy, President, James Slevin, Vice President, Robert Straub, Treasurer, and John Kelly, Brooklyn Representative and Chair, Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York; Peter Gorman, President and Captains' Rep., Nicholas J. Visconti, Chiefs' Rep., and Stephen J. Carbone, Lieutenants' Rep., Uniformed Fire Officers Association; and, Joseph Gagliardi, Marine Engineers Association.
New York City Police Pension Fund: Comptroller Thompson; Mayor Bloomberg; Commissioner Stark; New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly (Chair); Patrick Lynch, Patrolmen's Benevolent Association; Michael Palladino, Detectives Endowment Association; Edwin Mullins, Sergeants Benevolent Association; Anthony Garvey, Lieutenants Benevolent Association; and, John Driscoll, Captains Endowment Association.
NYCERS: Comptroller Thompson; Commissioner Stark (Chair); New York City Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum; Borough Presidents C. Virginia Fields (Manhattan), Helen Marshall (Queens), Marty Markowitz (Brooklyn), Adolfo Carrion (Bronx), and James Molinaro (Staten Island); Lillian Roberts, Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME; Roger Toussaint, President Transport Workers Union Local 100; and, Carroll (Carl) Haynes, President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 237.
TRS: Comptroller Thompson; Commissioner Stark (Chair); Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm, New York City Department of Education; and, Sandra March, Melvyn Aaronson and Mona Romain, all of the United Federation of Teachers.
BERS: Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, Alan Aviles, Phillip Berry, David Chang, Tino Hernandez, Augusta Souza Kappner, Richard Menschel and Marita Regan; Borough President appointees Jesse Mojica (Bronx), Martine G. Guerrier (Brooklyn), Jacquelyn Kamin (Manhattan), Michael Flowers (Queens) and Joan Correale (Staten Island); and employee members Thomas J. Malanga, International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 891, and Milagros Rodriguez of District Council 37, Local 372.
A copy of the shareholder resolution can be viewed at the Comptroller's web site at www.comptroller.nyc.gov