MAC/20: Mines and Communities

BHP Billiton faces shareholder concern

Published by MAC on 2005-11-30


BHP Billiton faces shareholder concern

By MPI Sydney

30th November 2005

BHP Billiton faces shareholder concern over irresponsible conduct across four continents

Mineral Policy Centre (Australia) Media Release: 25 November 2005

BHP Billiton will face a barrage of concerned shareholders when it holds its meeting in Perth today.

The Mineral Policy Institute joins with other concerned shareholders of the company to query whether the company’s corporate responsibility rhetoric will ever translate into reality.

BHP Billiton will come under fire for their questionable environmental and social conduct across four continents including:

**PHILIPPINES: Their involvement in allegedly unlawful exploration for nickel in Pujada Bay in the Philippines. Earlier this week, BHPB Chairman Don Argus was sent a petition of over 800 signatures of residents in opposition to the mining who are demanding BHPB pull out of the operations. The petition was in response to claims Argus made at the London AGM last month that there was widespread community support for the Pujada Bay mining projects. Exploration licences for the activities supported by BHPB overlap with protected areas and endangered species habitiat in violation of requirements in the Philippines Mining Act, and have been opposed by two out of three local level governments in the region.

** COLOMBIA: Failure to address the cases of long suffering communities who were forcibly evicted for the expansion of the El Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia. Dialogue has not progressed since before the last AGM and dispossessed families who have lost their homes, lands and livelihood are currently scattered all over Northern Columbia living with family and friends as they await compensation and relocation as a result of forced and in case violent evictions that occurred 5 or more years ago.

**SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: Unwilllingness to agree to a 1km safety zone from the rivers in its mining operations in the Southern Coalfields of NSW. After wrecking significant portions of the Cateract, Georges Rivers with previous mining activities, the company has submitted proposals to mine at distances of only 30m in some cases. Even BHPB’s own consultants say, in the subsidence management plan that was submitted on 18th of October this year that the river and 18 creeks at this site will probably be cracked. This river is a conduit for drinking water in Sydney (via Upper Canal) and Macarthur (via the nearby Macarthur Water Filtration Plant).

**INDONESIA: Recent reports that they are going to fight for the right to mine on Gag Island in Indonesia despite an Indonesian Constitutional court ruling that confirmed “the dangerousness and negative impacts of open cut mining in protected forest areas” and stated that those mines in exploration and feasibility stages must comply with the law banning open cut mining in protected areas.

**PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Their broken promises to shareholders in 2001 that they would ensure the Ok Tedi mine would be well managed after their exit. Now catastrophic predictions of acid rock drainage along the Ok Tedi and Fly River systems are likely to exacerbate near life threatening food and water shortages in downstream communities, and leave the river dead for between two hundred to three hundred years. A meeting of community representatives in November this year confirmed that, contrary to BHPB's claims, communities did not consent to the terms of BHPB’s exit from the mine.

**URANIUM, WORLDWIDE: Their entry into the uranium sector and the nuclear cycle which has seen ethical shareholders such as the Uniting Church sell their shares in the company, and includes current plans that drastically expand production and associated environmental impacts of the Roxby Downs uranium mine.

"If BHP Billiton is ever to live up to its claims of corporate responsiblity the company has to address the core issues at its mine sites across the globe. It has to take responsibilty for the mess it has dumped upon surrounding communities, and take meaningful steps to avoid creating further social and environmental harm. Lofty goals and weazel words are one thing, but the signals from their project sites tell the real story and it isn't very pretty," stated Techa Beaumont of the Mineral Policy Institute

Additional information on each of these issues is available at www.mpi.org.au

The audio of the questions is available on the BHP Billiton website


BHP challenged at AGM over nuclear expansion

25th November 2005

Media Release from Friends of the Earth & Australian Conservation Foundation

Environmentalists will today hold peaceful demonstrations in Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne to protest against BHP Billiton's plan to make the Roxby Downs mine in SA the biggest uranium mine in the world. At the company's Annual General Meeting in Perth, BHPB will be challenged with questions over its contribution to global nuclear proliferation and pollution, its unsustainable water extraction plans and its extraordinary legal privileges.

David Noonan from the Australian Conservation Foundation said: "BHPB's uranium exports contribute to the risk of nuclear accidents and terrorism, of weapons proliferation and dirty bombs. These risks will increase with proposed export of Australian uranium to China. We can have no confidence in supposed 'safeguards' once our uranium is in the hands of the Chinese state. Draft guidelines released this week show BHPB is trying to ignore the risks of its uranium exports by excluding the nuclear fuel cycle from assessment of the proposed Roxby expansion."

The Anti-Nuclear Alliance of WA’s Robin Chapple, who will attend the AGM, said: "Globally, the nuclear power industry produces 13,000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel every year, yet there is not a single disposal site anywhere in the world for any of this high-level nuclear waste. People formerly associated with Pangea Resources have indicated that they intend to return to Australia next year for another push to turn Australia into the world's nuclear waste dump. BHPB cannot ignore its growing contribution to this global problem."

Michaela Stubbs from Friends of the Earth (Melbourne) said: "BHPB proposes to take an additional 120 million litres of Great Artesian Basin water daily - free of charge - for the Roxby expansion. This is additional to the current daily extraction of 33 million litres. The precious Mound Springs, listed as endangered ecological communities under the Commonwealth Environment Protection Act, have already been adversely effected by unsustainable water extraction."

Jim Green from Friends of the Earth (Adelaide) said: "Roxby Downs is subject to the weakest standards of any mine in SA. The Roxby Indenture Act overrides the SA Environment Protection Act, the Water Resources Act and the Aboriginal Heritage Act. These outrageous legal favours are indefensible and must be revoked."


Anti-nuke protest targets BHP Billiton

25th November 2005

Anti-nuclear protesters say BHP Billiton is ignoring the risk that uranium from its South Australian mine could end up in the hands of terrorists.

The Australian Conservation Foundation and the Anti-Nuclear Alliance of Western Australia (ANAWA) staged a silent vigil at the annual general meeting of the mining giant in Perth.

ANAWA spokesman Robin Chapple said he wanted BHP Billiton to stop mining uranium in Australia.

If the mining activity continued, he said BHP Billiton at least needed to be more transparent in how it operated its Olympic Dam mine.Mr Chapple said the nuclear power industry was growing but there was not a single disposal site anywhere for nuclear waste."BHP Billiton cannot ignore its growing contribution to this global problem."

The Australian Conservation Foundation's David Noonan said Olympic Dam uranium contributed to the risk of nuclear accidents and terrorism, weapon proliferation and dirty bombs.

"These risks will increase with proposed export of Australian uranium to China," Mr Noonan said.

"Draft guidelines released this week show BHP Billiton is trying to ignore the risks of its uranium exports by excluding the nuclear fuel cycle from assessment of the proposed Roxby (Olympic Dam) expansion."

Protesters also targeted the Adelaide and Melbourne offices of BHP Billiton.

BHP Billiton workers at Melbourne were handed bottled water as they arrived at work to highlight how much water is consumed at Olympic Dam.

The protesters oppose the uranium mine's daily use of 30 million litres of water from the Great Artesian Basin.

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