Report on the Court Meeting and Extraordinary General Meeting held to approve the takeover of Lonmin by Sibanye Stillwater, London, Tuesday 28 May 2019
by Richard Solly, Co-ordinator, London Mining Network
1. The reason that Lonmin held another shareholders’ meeting just over two months after its Annual General Meeting was that its board was recommending that shareholders accept a takeover offer by US-South African mining company Sibanye Stillwater. Under the deal, each shareholder would get one share in Sibanye Stillwater for every share they owned in Lonmin. The first legal meeting, the Court Meeting, was called to approve the takeover scheme. The second legal meeting, the Extraordinary General Meeting, which followed immediately after that meeting in the same place, was called to approve a resolution giving practical effect to the decision of the Court Meeting.
2. For an hour or so before the shareholders’ meeting began, the Marikana Solidarity Collective held a People’s Tribunal outside the Royal Society, where the meeting was to take place, looking at the appalling historical record of Lonmin and the company from which it was spun off, Lonrho, together with the complicity of leading figures in the British political establishment.
3. Because I attended the tribunal, I was late for the Court Meeting. When I arrived, a shareholder was talking about the contrast between the payout to Ben Magara under the Sibanye Stillwater takeover deal and the valuation per share under that deal.
4. Chairman Brian Beamish said that Lonmin’s share price today is just over 62p. As of 23 April when papers about the deal were sent out, the valuation was 83.1p. He said that the company operates within the bounds of its remuneration policy. In the event of a takeover, shares held in trust for executives are paid out to them. The bulk of money which the shareholder was referring to was included in bonuses earned by executives in the years gone by, half in cash and half in shares. Now that the company was going out of existence, the shares kept in trust for a three year period will all be cashed. The other element in payments to long-term executives were incentives, and these will vest pro rata. Other than that the takeover deal includes no special payments to directors. Directors have a bonus scheme on various subjects based on performance against set objectives. 35% of their bonus was to do with finding strategic solution to the company’s problems, and this is associated with this transaction happening.
5. The shareholder said that he had based his comments on coverage in the South African Business Weekly. He aid he disagreed with bonuses anyway but accepted the Chairman’s explanation.
6. Brian Beamish said that payments were totally in line with what shareholders had approved.
7. A second shareholder said that she had stayed loyal to the company for very many years. “Tiny Rowland would turn in his grave if he saw what had happened to his company,” she said. Lonrho had had “nice AGMs” in pleasant premises with fine refreshments. “Now there are protesters outside holding pictures of people who died at your operations. Bonuses are not appropriate. Have you solved the problem of the people who died? Have they received compensation?” Nobody from the board had been outside to greet shareholders, and the shareholder had felt uneasy passing the protesters. She had helped keep the company afloat through her contribution to the rights issues and was now to be left with a very small amount. How could the board look at themselves in the mirror every morning and be happy? [I wondered the same thing; not because shareholders’ meetings are not as nice as they apparently were in the days of Tiny Rowland – called by former British Conservative Prime Minister Ted Heath “the unacceptable face of capitalism” – but because of the role of the company in the Marikana massacre and its aftermath, and in creating the conditions of poverty, desperation, family strife and worker conflict which led to it.]
8. Brian Beamish said that the people outside were “commemorating the unfortunate incident which happened in 2012, when the police shot 32 [sic] people after inter-union rivalry resulted in ten deaths. It was a very unfortunate incident – we refer to it in Lonmin as the day that changed our lives.” The company had gone out of its way since then to ensure that the children of those employees had been educated. It had offered employment to a family member in each family that had lost a breadwinner in order to ensure income for families, and it had worked to ensure statutory payments to families of victims. The whole industry and the government regret the incident and want it never to happen again. At the time, he said, he had not been involved with Lonmin but with Anglo American. The violence could have happened at any mining company’s operations. Lonmin was not worse that other companies – indeed, it has high moral standards. [The term ‘cognitive dissonance’ came to my mind.]
9. Regarding the financial side and the rights issue, he went on, “that is why we are here today.” Over the last decade there had been three rights issues, to keep the company afloat and survive in very challenging market conditions. The growth in the industry that had been expected had not occurred. Prices continued drifting downwards. The company had managed to maintain a cash neutral position in line with a commitment made in 2015. This has been done by cutting costs wherever possible, but the business was not sustainable at current metal prices. The platinum price would almost certainly one day improve, and Lonmin’s assets would make money again, but in its current form the business could not get through the period of depressed metal prices. The board had looked at selling assets and other ways of surviving, including all the suggestions made by analysts and in the media, and had come to the conclusion that the deal on the table was the most suitable and most likely to get the company through to the other side of depressed prices. Shareholders would benefit from this.
10. The shareholder asked how much the company had spent on all of this. Had they ever thought of reducing the fees of the board? “You always start to save at the bottom with shareholders, but never at the top. The attitude has to change.”
11. Brian Beamish replied that the company had indeed reduced fees. Ben Magara had come in at a much lower rate of pay than his predecessor because of this, and the board all took a reduction in pay in 2014 because of the difficulties the company was facing.
12. The shareholder asked how the new company could make things any better. Why did they want to take Lonmin over? It seemed a bad idea. And she said that the Chairman had not answered her question about how much the company had paid for the fees for lawyers.
13. Brian Beamish said that the total expenditure on the takeover agreement had been US$24.38 million, of which US$16.02 million was for financial and broker advice and the rest for legal costs. Real synergies were to be had by putting the two companies together. Lonmin starts off finding and mining metals and goes through to refining and selling. Lonmin has spare capacity in its processing facilities which Sibanye Stillwater can now use, “so that is a massive benefit to them.” The other benefit is that their business and Lonmin’s are next to each other “so we can rationalise management and the treatment of ore.” There was value in synergies and Sibanye had better cash generation across their business so is able to invest in the business in a way that Lonmin currently could not.
14. The shareholder asked if the Lonmin board were to be paid redundancy money.
15. Brian Beamish replied that all non-executive directors would resign from the board and have no further remuneration from Lonmin after 7 June. The future of the two executive directors lies with the new owners and there had been no discussion so far on this matter.
16. A third shareholder said he was “not clear on the new company. Do they have other metals that they are going to be mining?”
17. Brian Beamish explained that Sibanye had started life as a gold mining company and had several gold operations in South Africa. It had started buying into the platinum industry and bought the Rustenberg operations from Anglo American and then bought Stillwater in Montana in the USA. Sibanye Stillwater now mines gold and Platinum Group Metals, which is where the synergies come from. The foundation of its diversification was the acquisition of Stillwater in Montana.
18. I referred to the Chairman’s answer to the second shareholder, in which he said that the protesters outside were commemorating those who had been killed at Marikana in August 2012. I said that the tribunal outside had looked at the whole history of the company, though the massacre at Marikana had certainly played a central role in its deliberations. I said that Bishop Johannes Seoka of the Benchmarks Foundation in South Africa had hoped to attend the shareholders’ meeting but had not managed to obtain a visa in time. I said that the bishop had made a number of comments and that I wished to summarise them. I said that the bishop had said, among other things, that Lonmin is guilty of failing the workers, depriving them of their rights and forcing them to slave-like living and working conditions, which had resulted in the massacre at Marikana. Both Lonmin and state officials are guilty. To date nothing has been done of what is required by the labour law of South Africa. The merger is bad news for the miners and their communities. It is taking place despite the challenges ranging from Lonmin’s failure to implement its Social Labour Plan to the drop in Sibanye’s stock since 2017, when the merger announcement was made. According to civil society, there must be a vote against the merger until there is clear provision for the protection of the miners who are likely to be retrenched after six months of the merger. The reality, the bishop had said, is that there has been no change at Marikana since the massacre. The conditions in which people live and work are worse than they were before 2012, when they were massacred for a living wage and better working and living conditions. I said that Lonmin had not fulfilled its Social Labour Plan and that it was essential that, if the merger went ahead, Sibanye Stillwater would be required to fulfil it.
19. Brian Beamish replied that he had met with Bishop Jo the previous week. “We have discussed all these issues repeatedly at AGMs,” he went on. “Lonmin is a good payer in the mining industry and excellent in comparison with other industries in South Africa. Regarding the Social Labour Plan, we undertook to spend 500 million rand over five years and we did. We pay out per annum 475 million rand in living out allowances where employees have opted to receive these. We have a Social Labour Plan agreed with the government and that SLP stays in place irrespective of the transaction. Sibanye Stillwater has said they are happy to honour all commitments in these plans. We are not leaving our employees or communities in the lurch: everything we have committed to, we have done. We have a clear conscience regarding what we have done. We have downsized the workforce as a business necessity. Going forward, because we cannot reinvest in our business, older shafts close down and we cannot replace them for lack of cash to invest. We are looking at 12,600 positions which will fall away as shafts are mined out. Unless we invest in new shafts we cannot mine any more. Jobs will come to an end without further investment. Sibanye Stillwater see it the same way. Without any cash injection, 12,600 positions are in jeopardy. We have slowed the rate of job loss but those positions will drop away without substantial investment. This is the result of the reality of business.”
20. Another shareholder said that he had spoken to one of directors at the last meeting and said it would be nice if all shareholders could go away with a bit of platinum rock as a memento of the good times and the bad times during their involvement with Lonmin. “Will we go away with a piece of rock?” There was some polite laughter from other shareholders. Brian Beamish also laughed. “Sorry to disappoint you,” he said. “There will be no rock. I am sorry.”
21. The resolution to accept the proposed all-share takeover was then carried by 98.98% of votes cast.
22. The Extraordinary General Meeting then commenced. There was one item of business, a special resolution, to give effect to the scheme agreed at the Court Meeting. It was passed by 98.97% to 1.03% – not quite as high a margin as the resolution at the Court Meeting, but nonetheless unassailable. Brian Beamish then thanked shareholders for their loyal support over the years; management for their unwavering commitment and hard work; and employees for their service to the company.
23. There was no admission of guilt for the massacre at Marikana or any of the other matters included in the charges in the tribunal outside. Shareholders approved the demise of the company without – apparently – ever getting to grips with their share of moral responsibility for its atrocious history.
24. The struggle now will be to ensure that Sibanye Stillwater and its investors are held to account for the injustices in which Lonmin is implicated and the promises which it has made.
1. Chairman Jean-Paul Luksic regretted that there had been a fatal accident at the company’s Los Pelambres copper mine in Chile last year. He stressed that safety is very important to Antofagasta.
2. He also reported that the company had achieved record production. It had implemented a new operating model and started construction of the Los Pelambres expansion project. It was looking for sustainable growth opportunities, focusing on the Americas.
3. He noted that there are substantial mineral resources in Chile which, he said, will be developed over time. Chile provides a favourable environment for the mining industry not only because of this mineralisation but also because of what he called its ‘robust public institutions’ and ‘functioning democracy’. [Some critics of the company and of the Chilean government take a different view of these matters, alleging serious corruption, not least in the government’s relationship to mining companies.]
4. Jean-Paul Luksic said that the board had recently approved the expansion of Los Pelambres and construction is under way. This, he said, will add 60,000 tonnes of copper to the company’s production each year. There will be a desalination plant to provide water. The company had advanced studies on the expansion of its Centinela mine and decided to focus on the evaluation of a second concentrator.
5. The company’s transport division, he said, had celebrated its 130th anniversary last year and is moving into a period of growth having won new contracts and acquired new locomotives.
6. Regarding corporate governance, he said, in 2018 the company had complied with all the provisions of the UK governance code. The board and committees provided input into important developments including diversity and inclusion, risk management and executive pay. The company is looking to double the number of women in its workforce by 2022.
7. He said that the company’s investment horizon is very long. The company is very sensitive to the views and interests of its stakeholders, he said. Its current governance structures support the representation of stakeholder views in its activities.
8. Independent director Bill Hayes would not be standing for re-election, he said. He welcomed Michael Anglin, who had joined the board as an independent non-executive director in April. Mr Anglin had worked in base metals in the Americas for over 30 years. Most recently he had been Chief Operating Officer of BHP in South America.
9. Francisca Castro had been appointed as chair of the Remuneration and Talent Management Committee. [That sounded very jolly to me – rather like Britain’s Got Talent or the X-Factor, I thought, though perhaps with larger sums of money in play.]
10. The copper market looks tight, he went on. [Has it been drinking too much? I wondered.] There is short-term volatility because of current trade tensions. But the low carbon economy needs minerals, he said, especially copper, which allows the efficient use of electricity. [Yes, we had been expecting this: the metals mining industry is now presenting itself as the saviour of the world. Even companies such as BHP, which are also involved in the continuing extraction of oil, coal and gas, are presenting themselves as the heroes who will save us all from climate change because they are also mining copper – or cobalt, or lithium, or whatever else is required for electric vehicles or renewable energy – despite the fact that even metal mining has enormous impacts on the climate and extractivism in general is the greatest generator of biodiversity loss.] “With our new production and portfolio,” said Jean-Paul Luksic, “we are well positioned to benefit from this growth. By focusing on safe and efficient operations we will continue to succeed.”
11. He concluded by saying that 2018 had been a year of good progress for the company and it is well positioned to continue executing its strategy over the coming years. He thanked all the company’s employees and contractors.
12. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ivan Arriagada then explained that Antofagasta had done a lot of work to determine the purpose of the company. This purpose motivates everyone at Antofagasta. The process of deciding it had been as important as the outcome. The board had consulted externally and internally and concluded that its purpose is ‘developing mining for a better future’. This is the “core to who we are and how we operate”. [It is good to know that the company now knows why it is doing what it is doing. It is always helpful to know why one is doing what one is doing, if only to help in answering the question, “What the deuce did you thundering well do that for? – or similar questions couched in more contemporary and idiomatic terminology.]
13. Copper is a key enabler of a modern and lower carbon economy, he went on. It is linked to increasing urbanisation and electricity supply. There are major changes on the way, associated with clean transport and green energy. There will be positive for demand for copper in the future. Future demand for copper will be driven by urbanisation, renewable energy and electric vehicles, he said.
14. He noted that 9% of Antofagasta’s employees are women and 54% are from local areas around the company’s operations. It has 6,500 employees and 15,000 contractors. It is working to double the number of women involved. A woman had just been appointed as General Manager of the Transport Division.
15. In 2018, he reported, after 26 months without a fatality, a contractor had been killed at Los Pelambres late last year. The company regretted this very much indeed. It has a strong safety culture, and safety remains its top priority.
16. With regard to community relations, no material incidents had been reported by communities, but a dust incident had been reported due to climatic conditions at Los Pelambres. An engagement strategy had been started at Los Pelambres called Somos Choapa. Various Corporate Social Responsibility projects were being pursued, including in education and sports.
17. He said that 45% of the water used in the company’s operations was now seawater, and this is to increase. At Centinela 86% and at Antucoya 96% of water used is from the sea. Renewable energy use is up to 23% from 5% in 2015. The company will continue to decarbonise its energy supply. Operations at Zaldivar and Antucoya will use 100% renewable energy by 2022. Antofagasta is committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 300,000 tonnes by 2022, he said. Its strategy includes leaving green areas around its operations. At Centinela it is producing thickened tailings to reduce water use.
18. Chile has very strict regulations governing all tailings dam construction, he said. It prohibits the upstream design used at Brumadinho in Brazil where the disastrous collapse had occurred in January this year. [‘Upstream’ tailings dams are those which, as they are gradually raised to keep pace with increases in waste deposition, rest partly on the fine waste material which they are holding back. The more expensive ‘downstream’ tailings dams are raised by being built in the other direction, away from the fine wastes which they contain, so that they do not have to rest on the wastes.] Regulations in Chile also require monitoring and regular review of emergency procedures. Thickened tailings will reduce pressure on the dam at Centinela. At Los Pelambres, the Mauro dam is designed for extreme weather conditions and earthquakes and is closely monitored. The company’s dams are reviewed twice a year by a group of international experts who report their findings directly to Antofagasta’s CEO. Antofagasta supports the development of an independent international standard and will work with the ICMM and other bodies to ensure its success. [The ICMM is the International Council on Mining and Metals, an industry body devoted, it is said, to raising standards in the industry, or greenwashing, or a bit of both, depending on one’s standpoint.]
19. The transport division had had no fatalities in 2018. New locomotives are being introduced. The company had achieved record production of 725,300 tonnes of copper at $1.29 per pound. It is promoting primary sulphide leaching, thickened tailings, and improvements in material movement. It will continue working for fatality free operations.
Questions and answers
Tailings dams and reporting
20. A shareholder asked about the improvement of the company’s tailings dams and how different they are from those which have collapsed in recent years in Brazil. [She was referring to tailings dam collapses at Samarco in November 2015 and Brumadinho in January 2019. Both caused deaths and environmental contamination on a massive scale. She also proved to be the life and soul of the AGM by raising several issues which might affect the company’s finances at the same time as affecting people around its operations, and observing that if she lived close its Los Pelambres mine she might wish to blow it up… I thought this a little pointed but found her contributions most refreshing.]
21. Jean-Paul Luksic replied that the most recent tragedy in Brazil had hit the whole industry. It had been extensively discussed in the Chilean press. As a country with seismic issues, where earthquakes do happen, the standards of construction in Chile are different from those in Brazil. In Brazil the ‘upstream’ method is used. This is prohibited in Chile. At Antofagasta, the downstream method of construction if used, and this has proven to withstand earthquakes and other issues. Antofagasta’s handling of tailings over the years, both in design and operation, had been of a very high standard. “We have had an independent board of specialists reviewing how we operate our tailings,” he said, “and we get recommendations from them on certain issues. We have used the best method and this has proven to be very solid.”
22. Richard Harkinson, of London Mining Network, asked further about the company’s management of waste. He noted that CEO Ivan Arriagada had said that the company would agree to help move forward on international standards on tailings dams. Major institutional investors led by the Church of England and the Swedish ethics board had written to mining companies including Antofagasta. “Their questions go to your plans for tailings management over the next five years,” he said. “You are moving to a much larger taillings dam which will last way after 2036 and is planned to contain 2.1 billion tonnes of waste. That is a giant figure compared to the Brazilian dams which have caused such disastrous consequences. Brumadinho caused around 300 deaths. At MLP you have operated the dam above the community of Caimanes, with 1600 inhabitants who live in some fear.” Richard said he appreciated that the company has evacuation procedures and monitoring, but was concerned about how the company justified designing the tailings dam to withstand an earthquake level of 7.5 at the site or 8.3 at a distance of 80 kilometres. He pointed our that there had been a 9.5 earthquake at Valdivia in Chile in 1960 and more recently at Coquimbo an 8.3. He said that when Antofagasta designed for maximum earthquake strength there is a degree of risk involved. The Mauro dam at the Pelambres mine is the largest waste dam in Latin America, “and you may be underestimating the calculation of the size of the maximum earthquake.” There is a worry there for everyone, investors and community members, and a possible loss of earnings as at Vale [responsible for the January 2015 disaster at Brumadinho].
23. “You plan to increase production,” he went on, “and we know nothing about grades, so you may move to an 80% increase with an accompanying increase in the amount of waste deposited. You pride yourself on construction of the dam out of waste rock, but the Mount Polley dam failure [in British Columbia, Canada, in 2014] was disastrous, and that was not an upstream dam.” The inquiry into that disaster had issued a set of recommendations which included mandatory independent review. “You say you do a twice yearly review of tailings dam stability,” Richard said. “Are you making this transparent? What is being said in independent reviews is important to people and should be published. We would like to know who is doing it too. You have been ICMM members since 2014. In 2016 ICMM issued guidance on tailings. Are you doing better than ICMM best practice?”
24. Jean-Paul Luksic said that Antofagasta, along with over 600 other mining companies around the world, had received the letter led by the Church of England and the Swedish fund. “We, like most mining companies, are preparing our answer to that questionnaire and are expected to give our answer by 7 June,” he said. “We expect to be slightly before that. We will make all our tailings issues very transparent. We are all for transparency regarding our tailings. Regarding earthquakes, this was very much debated. In1960 we had the world’s largest earthquake, 9.5, but when you talk to seismologists they say it does not mean it will happen all over Chile. A 9.5 can only happen in the Valdivia area, so when we designed the Mauro dam the experts say you cannot have more than an 8.3, and the design was for 8.5, and this was based on scientific evidence and looking at over 1,000 years of earthquakes in the region.”
25. Ivan Arriagada added: “Transparency is key, and we are completing the request by the Church of England and will make it public. We have been working on a project in Chile which aims at making some of the key information on tailings available to communities and local authorities in real time. Proyecto Tranque is being sponsored by the government. We are leading the effort to see this project through to a conclusion and will have very open and transparent reporting on tailings with the community. We are working with ICMM actively. The standard being proposed will be independently evaluated and will include the entire life cycle.”
26. Richard Harkinson replied, that he found it difficult to believe that the experts consulted could rule out a level of earthquake as at Valdivia. He said that in 2010 there was an 8.8 elsewhere in Chile and the possibility of strong earthquakes exists because of the intersection of tectonic plates. Although there is an unpredictability about where earthquakes might occur and how strong they might be, there is a certainty that there will be an earthquake. “I welcome the news that the tragic events in Brazil have reactivated a stalled project for transparency to inform local people and others,” he said. “In the mean time, what is your commitment to transparency and making stability audits public? This is the essence of transparency. I would like to hear you commit to that.”
27. Ivan Arriagada replied, “We are responding with a full set of information as requested by investors, which includes information on design, operation and stability, and so we do not have a reservation. The project of working with communities began before Brumadinho and we have been quite keen on promoting it and we will provide all the information requested with no reservation.”
28. [Neither Jean-Paul Luksic nor Ivan Arriagada actually answered Richard’s twice-repeated question about whether they would make the information contained in stability audits public. Perhaps famous television interviewer Jeremy Paxman might have wheedled the information out of them. For the time being, we had better assume that the answer is “No”. I would be delighted to be corrected.]
Earthquakes and security
29. The shareholder who had asked the first question asked another. She said that she had stuck with the company when the share price collapsed. She said she had asked about the size of earthquakes at the AGM three years ago. The issue is not simply the size but the angle at which shock waves hit the tailings dam, she said. She had been hit by an earthquake in a hotel in Katmandu in Nepal and it had been very alarming. She asked if anyone had analysed the cost of the failure of the Mauro dam. “There will be a lot of bodies, ” she said. “There are 1,600 people at Caimanes. How much production will you lose from your biggest asset? Will we be solvent? Has anyone done this analysis? If I lived in Caimanes I would blow something up. What is your security in Los Pelambres and will you do anything more as you expand the mine? Legal costs: how much has the company paid in legal costs? You have been citing this for years. You have fought things and got them overturned but at what cost?”
30. Ivan Arriagada replied that on emergency response plans, the company had been working intensively for some time on readiness and preparedness around them. It was integral to the way the company manages the tailings dam, and this is assessed periodically. He said that the company is complying with what is expected. Seismic risk is tested independently. Regarding expanding the dam, he said that the company is not contemplating any changes to the tailings dam in the current project. There is to be no change in the Mauro tailings dam in the current expansion project, he repeated. Regarding legal costs, the company had a couple of outstanding legal cases concerning the Mauro dam, but they were concluded with rulings from the courts in 2015 and 2016. “What has followed,” he said, “has simply been the execution of those rulings, but there is no legal cost as such as that litigation is over.” On security, he said, “We have strong security around our facilities. This follows a certain standard common to all our sites. It is relevant and appropriate for the kind of sites we have. Security for unexpected events is part of what we plan for. People are rotated regularly to ensure alertness.” [I should have thought that if people are rotated regularly they would be more likely to feel giddy and fall over, but I said nothing.]
Another appeal for transparent reporting
31. Richard Harkinson said, “The Chief Executive has assured us that Antofagasta will participate in the Church of England request for information, but this was different from my question about making transparent your stability audits. Will you put them on your website? The ICMM are in discussion with the Church of England. Going forward, I can see projection of mining to 2036. The extension programme was agreed in 2018 but the question is about financial assurance, not just insurance, so that when you leave the legacy of accumulated waste, and you hit your target of waste, you have separate rock solid financial provision binding for waste management in perpetuity.”
32. Jean-Paul Luksic said that it was important to stress that in Chile there is a government body very much involved in oversight of all tailings dams, and the closure programmes required by law have all been agreed with the Ministry. It is not purely a question of the company’s thoughts but is required by law. He said he was “comfortable” with the way that the government and the company are dealing with tailings.
33. A representative of ShareAction asked about gender diversity. He said it is important to be able to demonstrate meaningful progress. Could the company provide more information and meet with ShareAction to speak more about diversity and inclusion?
34. Jean-Paul Lukcsic replied that diversity and inclusion are part of the Antofagasta’s strategy and the company wants to double the number of women involved by 2022. The board is working across the company and with contractors. The company is also trying to employ as many people as possible from the local area. the board would be happy to engage with ShareAction to hear from them how it could improve. He invited the ShareAction representative to speak to Ivan Arriagada about this.
35. Sebastian Ordonez, of War on Want, said: “I am asking a question on behalf of the Red Territorial de Choapa – The Choapa Territorial Network – which is comprised of the indigenous Diaguita Taucan community, OCAS, the Environmental Citizens Organisation of Salamanca, and many other organisations living in the Choapa Province, where your Los Pelambres mine is situated.
36. “You recently inaugurated the start of the Complementary Infrastructure Project at Los Pelambres, granted by Resolution of Environmental Qualification Number 16 on February 16, 2018. However, since 2015, the water crisis in the Choapa Valley has worsened, with evident pollution in terms of water quality, air pollution, noise pollution and the tangible impacts of the two mega tailings dams which can be felt throughout the surrounding territory. The Choapa River basin has been significantly depleted. Despite this, the exploitation of the river by the mining company and agro-industry is excessive and with low fiscal regulation, affecting the natural channels of the aquifers, directly affecting family agriculture, and significantly putting the food sovereignty of the people of the valley at risk.
37. “Communities believe this project will cause environmental destruction and a breakdown in the social fabric across the valley and all the way to the sea. They also believe the project was approved omitting the necessary process of indigenous consultation request raised by the Taucan Diaguita Indigenous Community, as required by international law. And that the citizen participation process carried out by the SEIA did not cover the standards that the law demands, because it did not effectively collect the opinion of civil society organisations.
38. “They are calling on the authorities to take responsibility for the omissions committed in the SEIA process, and are demanding a review and revocation of RCA No. 16 for the reasons mentioned above. They are determined to defend the territory from the devastation of extractive violence and will continue to raise awareness of the social and environmental impacts generated by the mine. They vow to fight with their lives to leave a dignified and sustainable Valley for their children and grandchildren.
39. “These are serious allegations, which if true, could see the INCO project stopped. What is the company doing to address the concerns of communities, and how will it address the claims that international and national standards have not been adhered to?”
40. Jean-Paul Luksic said he wanted to stress the importance of relations between the company and the community. The company had pushed forward a programme called Somos Choapa to allow conversations between the company and different communities. The way the company was talking to different stakeholders had improved..
Campaigners will hold a ‘People’s Tribunal’ outside London-listed mining company Lonmin’s Extraordinary General Meeting, on Tuesday 28th May, 10.00–11.30am, outside The Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5.
Citing Lonmin’s inaction over demands made by South Africa’s Marikana community in the seven years since 34 striking mine workers were shot dead on 16th August 2012, activists from the campaign group Marikana Solidarity Collective will conduct a People’s Tribunal, rather than attending the company’s shareholders’ meeting to ask questions of its executives. The campaigners and representatives of Marikana demand accountability from Lonmin before its proposed takeover by South African mining corporation Sibanye Stillwater.
In addition to the calls for accountability, campaigners highlight that Sibanye Stillwater has the worst record on worker fatalities across the South African mining sector, with 24 deaths in 2018 alone, and that it is also planning to cut 4,500 jobs during the takeover. They claim that this will devastate an already precarious community.
On Tuesday, the coalition say they will put Lonmin and its shareholders ‘on trial’ for crimes against African people and nature, and deliver a verdict after an hour-long tribunal outside the venue. Testimonies and charges (2) from Marikana community members and those submitted by social movements will be heard.
Nima Mudey of Decolonising Environmentalism, said: ‘The Marikana workers and community have been organising relentlessly for justice since South African police opened fire on unarmed workers on strike for a living wage, at the orders of the ANC government in collusion with Lonmin (1). But demands have been met with fierce repression rather than reparations or accountability. After the likely takeover, Lonmin will be able to absolve itself of its legal obligations altogether. The true story of Lonmin must be told before it is allowed to do so.’
The Right Reverend Johannes Seokais a former Anglican Bishop of Pretoria, South Africa, he said: ‘The merger is bad news for the miners and their communities in the Platinum belt of South Africa. The conditions in which people live and work are worse than they were before 2012 when they were massacred for a living wage and better working and living conditions. The struggle is not over but has just begun. We must now focus on Sibanye-Stillwater’s investors and shareholders.’
Andy Higginbottom of the London based Marikana Miners Solidarity Campaign said: ‘Lonmin is the British company that instigated and colluded with the ANC government and the police in carrying out the massacre. The role of Lonmin’s executive managers and major shareholders must be held to account. Mick Davis was the chief executive of Xstrata, Lonmin’s biggest shareholder at the time. Davis is now the Chief Executive of the Conservative Party. There are questions to be asked about whether he had a role in the massacre.’
Organised by the Marikana Solidarity Collective: Marikana Miners Solidarity Campaign, Decolonising Environmentalism, London Mining Network, Pan-Afrikan Society Community Forum, War on Want, Women of Colour Global Women’s Strike.
Lonmin is a British-South African mining company. It is the world’s third largest platinum producer and is listed on the London Stock Exchange. One of its mines is in Nkaneng, Marikana, an informal settlement in rural South Africa. On August 16, 2012, 34 miners from the Lonmin platinum mine were shot and killed by South African police during strike action. The miners were on strike for a living wage and against their inhumane working and living conditions. While the killings were carried out by the police, according to a report by the Farlam Commission, an independent commission of inquiry, significant responsibility for the massacre lies with Lonmin for failing to adequately negotiate with or protect its employees during the dispute.
Lonmin has legal obligations to the community that they mine under and around, but they have yet to comply. Families of those killed are still waiting for compensation and their widows are working at the mine, because they cannot afford not to. Only a handful of the promised 5,500 homes for the 36,000 Lonmin workers have been built.
(2) The ‘charges’ that campaigners will raise at the People’s Tribunal against the executives and major shareholders of Lonmin and its former parent company the equally notorious Lonrho (Tiny Rowland, Edward du Cann, Ian Farmer, Albert Jamieson, Roger Phillimore, Simon Scott, Mick Davis, Brian Beamish) fall into three periods:
Lonrho in Rhodesia since 1909
Settler colonialism and dispossession
Profiteering from colonial genocide
Lonrho and Lonmin in the 1960s to 1980s
Violations of the international arms embargo
Profiting from the violence of apartheid
Lonmin since 1998
failure to implement Marikana’s Social and Labour Plan
inducing structural gender-based violence and family separation
tax avoidance and the super-exploitation of workers
complicity in the mass murder of 34 mine workers on 16 August 2012
It has been six weeks since our last full news mailing, and there has been so much news we cannot fit it all in a mailing! I hope you’ll find the news below interesting, but remember also that you can find our full news output by following us on Twitter or, if you do not have a Twitter account, you can find everything that we send out via Twitter on our website at https://twitter.com/londonmining.
People’s Tribunal on Lonmin
In our events mailout last Tuesday, we inadvertently gave the day and date of the People’s Tribunal on Lonmin as Monday 28 May. In fact, it will be held on TUESDAY 28 May. Sorry for the mix-up! I hope you can join us in support of the families of the mine workers murdered by police at Lonmin’s Marikana operations in 2012, and in protest against the multiple injustices associated with this company’s long history.
Deaths and death threats in Latin America
Lonmin is not the only mining company whose operations have been associated with violence and intimidation. On the eve of the Anglo American AGM last month, a number of our friends in La Guajira, Colombia – including indigenous Wayuu and African descent community leaders and trade unionists – received fresh death threats from the paramilitary organisation Aguilas Negras (Black Eagles) because of their criticisms of Cerrejon Coal, owned by London-listed multinationals Anglo American, BHP and Glencore. Cerrejon Coal has itself condemned these threats, but the Colombian government, far from showing any concern for those under threat, has refused protection to some and withdrawn protection from others. The Colombian Ministry of Defence responded to one email sent in response to our recent urgent action by asking, “What do you expect us to do about it?” (I translate and paraphrase, but that was the gist of what they said.) It is an outrage that our dear friends struggling for basic respect in the face of hugely destructive opencast mining have to live with this level of intimidation against themselves and their families, in the face of the utter indifference of the Colombian government. These threats against our friends are made for no other reason than that they challenge the conduct of multinational mining companies. I urge you to write to the Colombian government and encourage others to do so. Those who wish to murder our friends must never be allowed to get away with it.
Sadly, in Brazil, Dilma Ferreira Silva, one of the leaders of MAB, the Movement of People Affected by Dams, an organisation with which we have been working for the past three years, has recently been assassinated because of her work for justice and defence of the earth. Below you will find a denunciation of this murder. One of the things that Brazil has in common with Colombia is the fact that they are both run by Presidents who are openly opposed to the kind of ecological justice for which we and our friends are working.
The Rivers Are Bleeding
Coincidentally, our friends in LMN member group War on Want have updated their excellent report on British mining companies in Latin America, The Rivers Are Bleeding.
LMN has joined many others in warning the World Bank that the urgent and necessary move away from fossil fuels must not lead to an increase in the hugely damaging and destructive mining of metals used in renewable energy: we simply have to reduce energy use and move towards efficient reuse and recycling of minerals.
It’s good to see the great upsurge of protest and opposition against the forces tearing the planet to pieces. As well as all the activity around Extinction Rebellion, a new international alliance of women working against mining injustice has been formed: GAGGA is the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action and we report below on their work on Women’s Resistance to Mining: Articulating, strengthening and building solidarity.
Finally, do join us for two events next month: on 3 June for an evening on African feminist efforts on energy and climate justice and on 26 June for our annual gathering and learn more about Rio Tinto’s destructive legacies in Bougainville and Indonesia and about the work we are doing with mining-affected communities around the world to hold the industry to account. There’s an awful lot of bad news to report, but an awful lot of inspiring news about the global response to it. Resistance is fertile! Come and join us!
And there’s even more news below…
All the best,
Richard Solly, Co-ordinator, London Mining Network.
In this mailout
Paramilitary death threats to indigenous critics of Cerrejon mine
End opencast coal for good
Tuesday 28 May, Lonmin in the dock: the People’s Tribunal
Monday 3 June, Building Power: African feminist efforts on energy & climate justice
Tuesday 4 June, Mining Stories theatre performance
Wednesday 26 June, LMN’s annual gathering
New on the LMN blog
Death, destruction and dividends: the 2019 Anglo American AGM
Debate rages over future of La Guajira’s Bruno river
Statement on the assassination of Dilma Ferreira Silva, leader of MAB
Not the whole truth: the Rio Tinto AGM, 10 April 2019
1) Coal, climate change and the UK
2) Resident to launch new goldmine legal action
3) Vale says another dam may collapse next week
4) Iron ore mining in Brazil: a damning tale
5) South African court clears way for Sibanye’s acquisition of Lonmin
6) Other news about Rio Tinto
7) News about BHP
8) SolGold confident in new major copper-gold find in Ecuador
9) Glencore in the news
10) Settlement of the human rights claims against London-listed Gemfields Ltd
11) Vedanta in the news
12) Atalaya Mining knocked back in Huelva, weakened in Galicia, sent tumbling in London
13) Women’s Resistance to Mining: Articulating, strengthening and building solidarity
14) Old boys’ club LME appoints first female chair in its history
15) Mining companies need to start thinking seriously about ESG
16) Pope: mining activities should ensure integral sustainable human development
17) World Bank, Germany, Rio and Anglo set up “climate smart” mining fund
18) World’s biggest banks routinely hide links to human rights and environmental abuses behind client confidentiality – study
19) The Rivers are Bleeding: British mining in Latin America – updated
Paramilitary death threats to indigenous critics of Cerrejon mine
Our friends in La Guajira, Colombia, have received fresh death threats. They have been constant in their calls for justice for communities affected by the Cerrejon coal mine in La Guajira, Colombia. The mine is owned by London-listed multinationals Anglo American, BHP and Glencore. The most recent threats were issued on Monday 29 April, the day before the AGM of Anglo American in London. The last time such serious threats were issued was just before the October 2018 London AGM of BHP. It is unclear whether the timing was deliberate.
Our annual gathering is a chance to find out about mining-affected communities, our current projects, and the work of our network groups. You are very welcome if: you’ve never heard of us before; you know of our work but haven’t been able to come to an event yet; you want to get more involved; you are already working with us!
Hear from visiting speakers talking about the legacy of London-listed Rio Tinto’s mining in Bougainville and Indonesia.
Environmental damage caused by Rio Tinto’s Panguna mine on the island of Bougainville helped spark a war for independence from Papua New Guinea in the early 1990s – this year there will be a referendum on independence.
Clean-up of wastes from the company’s closed Kelian mine in Indonesia has been presented as a good example but research by our colleagues in Indonesia shows it in a different light.
Where: SOAS, Senate House, Malet Road, London
When: Wednesday 26th June, 6.30-8.30pm
ACCESSIBILITY: The venue is wheelchair accessible via a lift and there are accessible toilets. A microphone will be used. Hearing loop TBC. There will be photography, flash photography is unlikely. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or requirements. There will be a short break halfway through the evening.
Volker Boege is from German organisation Misereor, which works with the Catholic Diocese of Bougainville in supporting communities affected by the Panguna mine.
Siti Maimunah is from Jatam, Indonesia. She is an expert on the impacts of multinational mining in Indonesia and particularly its impacts on women.
LMN workers, researchers and some individuals in the network will also be sharing updates on their work.
We look forward to seeing you there, if you can’t make it, we will be live tweeting at @londonmining
Join us outside mining company Lonmin’s extraordinary general meeting for a People’s Tribunal.
Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5
28th May, 10-11.30am
We will be performing this tribunal outside the EGM venue, which is flat. The nearest accessible toilet is in Pret, a five minute walk away. We will be filming the event and using cameras, flash photography is unlikely. We’ll be using a sound system. There will be some chairs available but let us know if you would like one to make sure we have enough, and if you have other requirements: email@example.com
Protesters holding placards of mine workers who were killed in Marikana Massacre
Lonmin is a British-South African platinum mining corporation and is listed on the London Stock Exchange. It is complicit in the massacre of 34 striking mine workers in Marikana, South Africa, in 2012, when South African police opened fire on the unarmed protesters, at the orders of the ANC government, in collusion with the company.
The community have been campaigning for justice for the last seven years, yet have not found it. Lonmin is to be taken over by South African mining company Sibyane Stillwater in the summer – after which it will be even harder to attain justice. Sibyane Stillwater are also planning to cut some 30,000 jobs. This will devastate families who rely on the income from mining for survival.
After seven years of inaction, we are not going to protest this shareholders’ meeting as usual or enter into the unequal power dynamics that make up the meeting space. Instead, we will hold a people’s tribunal outside that puts Lonmin on trial and delivers its verdict.
Lonmin has had its chance to account for the massacre, and for its evasion of responsibility since. In an hour-long tribunal, we will delve into the historical colonialism and racism that made the massacre possible, the collusion surrounding the unlawful killings, and what has happened – or not happened – since. We will read testimonies of Marikana community members and hold silence for those who were killed.
*Do get in touch if you are an actor, writer, journalist, or would like to get involved!*
Where: UCL Students Union, Clarke Hall, Breakdown 2, IOE Bedford Way (20) 305, WC1H 0AY
When: Monday 3rd June, 5.30-8pm
ACCESSIBILITY: Russell Square tube station is a 5-minute walk away, Euston is a 10-minute walk. The closest bus stops are on Woburn Place and Southampton Row. The venue is wheelchair accessible and there are accessible toilets. Hearing loop TBC. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have other accessibility requirements or suggestions.
Organised peasant and working-class women impacted by mining and other extractives industries in African countries are defending their communities and their own gender-specific interests against insatiable extractives corporations. They are organising and campaigning for alternatives to the dominant growth-driven development that depends on destructive mining and energy projects that does not benefit the many.
Samantha Hargreaves, director and co-founder of WoMin (African Women Unite Against Destructive Resource Extraction), will share the network’s initiatives of organising grassroots women, non-governmental organisation (NGO) and women leaders from allied movements in at least 11 African countries to push for legislative and policy reforms at national and regional levels.
Join us in the discussion on how WoMin is working for minimum safeguards and rights as part of a planned transition towards a progressive, post-extractivist, feminist and ecologically responsive African alternative development.
Samantha will discuss the network’s role in building solidarities and collective power in the successful campaign for the #righttosayNo to extractives projects and the efforts of the Southern African campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power network, which is campaigning for a UN Binding Treaty on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises.
Image depicts a woman holding a poster which says: ‘End coal and all dirty energy!’ Credit: https://womin.org.za/
Report on the Anglo American AGM, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London, 30 April 2019
By Richard Solly (Co-ordinator of London Mining Network and member of Colombia Solidarity Campaign) with assistance from Hal Rhoades, Illary Valenzuela, Isobel Tarr, Laura Chaparro, Paul Robson, Richard Harkinson and Seb Ordonez
Anglo American’s 2019 AGM was another marathon meeting, like last year’s. A number of us from London Mining Network raised issues and so did institutional investors concerned about climate change and about tailings dam safety, and other investors concerned about worker safety and the links between Anglo American subsidiary De Beers and Israeli military operations in Gaza.
Meanwhile, outside, demonstrators drew the attention of passers-by to the company’s impacts. Our friends from Medact concentrated particularly on the health impacts of the company’s activities, especially around the jointly-owned Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia.
The account below is a summary rather than a full account of the meeting. Comments in square brackets are my own observations on the proceedings.
The Chairman’s speech
1. Company Chairman Stuart Chambers started by saying that South America represented one third of Anglo American’s investment even before the current investment in the Quellaveco copper project in Peru. He said that this explained the need to elect Marcelo Bastos as a new member of the board. Marcelo is Brazilian and has experience all over South America. The next non-executive director would reinforce the company’s South African experience.
2. [I wondered why he was emphasising all this, and then discovered that Anil Agarwal, owner of over 19% of Anglo American’s shares through his family trust, Volcan, and Chairman of Indian-based mining company Vedanta (against which, in its time as a London-listed company, many in London Mining Network campaigned doggedly) was voting against Marcelo Bastos because Mr Agarwal wants Anglo American to concentrate on South Africa, where Vedanta also has operations. Vedanta has been associated with multiple allegations of corruption, dangerous pollution, fatal work accidents, killings of protesters, violations of indigenous rights and law-breaking. It truly sets benchmarks for the industry – some of which are currently under consideration by UK judges after a recent decision of the UK Supreme Court.]
3. Stuart Chambers said that Anglo American is radically different from five years ago, and that this is a testament to Mark Cutifani, the management team and all the company’s people around the world. The shareholder return was 18%, way better than elsewhere on the London Stock Exchange. This, he said, is because the company directs its energy towards “doing the right thing”. Last year the management team had consulted widely with the company’s 90,000 employees to “distil its purpose”. This involves thinking very differently about the future of mining, reducing its environmental footprint and bringing lasting benefit to all those affected by it, from those who live around the company’s operations all the way through to its customers. Anglo American will re-engineer mining to improve people’s lives. As a global miner, he said, its products form an essential part of the daily lives of millions of people, so the company must take into account the demands of society over mining impacts. It aims to work safely, cleanly and efficiently, with due regard to all stakeholders.
4. He said that climate change is very important [I think this may count as an understatement]. He was pleased with the dialogue the company was having with investors in Climate Action 100 Plus. Anglo American had completed a questionnaire and quantitative scenario analysis and an analysis of its membership of industry associations. [I am sure that, if only they had known of this ground-breaking work, the striking school children inspired by young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg would have returned to their classes and the Extinction Rebellion activists would have abandoned their protests, comforted by the conviction that all would be well.] The company considers business sustainability in all its dimensions and in an integrated fashion.
5. “We have to keep our people safe,” he continued. This was always number one on the board’s agenda. He was “very disappointed” at the five fatal incidents that had taken place at the company’s managed operations last year. The company’s new Elimination of Fatalities Taskforce “has work to do”. Two more employees had been killed this year in workplace incidents. In addition, one of the company’s Singapore office employees and her children had been killed in the attacks in Sri Lanka at Easter.
6. He then spoke about the company’s FutureSmart Mining TM – technology aimed, he said, at transforming mining and ore processing. [Note that FutureSmart Mining, when written, always seems to be followed by the letters ‘TM’. I assume that this means that the phrase is a registered trade mark rather than that it has any connection with Transcendental Meditation, but both promise multiple benefits.] FutureSmart Mining (TM) would bring benefits in safety, energy and water consumption, the wider environmental footprint, productivity, and getting access to hitherto uneconomic ore bodies. [It is difficult to see how pushing forward the mining frontier into deposits which would, of necessity, create a greater proportion of waste material than higher grade ores, could possibly improve the company’s wider environmental footprint – but this may be exactly what FutureSmart Mining TM will show us. I only hope that those involved in delivering it will wear appropriate SuperHero Lycra (TM) body stockings and colourful capes. It will be such a disappointment if they don’t.]
7. Finally, Mr Chambers noted that the company does not own the minerals in the ground. “We are custodians,” he said, “and we have a duty to our host countries and communities to invest in and extract them in a spirit of partnership.” The company needs to ensure that the economic lives of those resources are optimised. A sustainable business is born of all these considerations and many more, and a licence to operate is born of conducting the business in a sustainable manner.
The Chief Executive’s Speech
8. Chief Executive Office (CEO) Mark Cutifani said that Anglo American’s production volumes were up 6%, with copper playing a very significant role.
9. He said that the safety of the company’s people is the number one priority. There had been a significant improvement in the last fifteen years but the company had not yet reached the point of zero harm. Five people died in 2018, [all in South Africa], and this is “tragic beyond words. We are determined to get to zero.” The company had launched a taskforce to eliminate all fatalities from the workplace. There had been some positive results. The taskforce had made significant and urgent operational interventions. The company had more than halved workplace injuries over the past few years, he said, “but the job is not done until it is done. We have to prove that we can do it every day.” He said that Anglo American leads the industry in treating HIV and AIDs and monitoring community health.
10. The most significant environmental incidents, he said, had been at Minas-Rio in Brazil, where two pipeline breaks had occurred in March 2018. There had been no injuries and no lasting damage to the environment, but the breaks were unacceptable. The company had cleaned up the spills and recommissioned the pipeline in September. The two recent tailings dam facilities incidents in Brazil [the Fundao tailings dam failure in November 2015 and the Brumadinho tailings dam failure in January 2019] had shown what can happen. Anglo American manages to high standards, higher than regulations demand, with internal and external controls, but the company would use the Brumadinho disaster to learn how to do better. The company will publish detailed information on each of its tailings facilities in the next few months as a first step to industry restoring trust with stakeholders.
11. Since 2012 Anglo American had halved the number of its assets and improved the performance of assets retained, with a total increase of 10% in physical product. Costs are 26% lower than they were seven years ago. Everyone in Anglo American is producing double what they were producing in 2012, and the company has led the industry in productivity gains.
12. The company has targeted investment in greenfield exploration, so it has high-return, long-life, low-cost operations in prospect. It has the capacity for profitable growth inside its existing portfolio. The Board has approved the development of the Quellaveco copper project in Peru and expects it to generate a strong cash return. Its reserve life is longer than 30 years. Mitsubishi has purchased 40% of the project. The project is on track. The river diversion agreed as part of the company’s community consultation is complete and good progress is being made on concrete pouring for construction.
13. The company’s growth opportunities, he said, include copper in Chile, diamonds in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa and coal in Australia. Anglo American is the most significant mining investor in South Africa by a significant margin. It will continue to work with government and local communities and others to build positive impact.
14. On FutureSmart Mining TM, he said, Anglo American acknowledges that it and the industry as a whole have a long way to go, but change has been remarkable. “Many technologies which we are developing significantly reduce our energy and water use per unit of production,” he said. “Sustainable mining is good business.” The company is aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and aims to be a trusted corporate leader. As an example, in South Africa it is a champion regarding community development in Limpopo; it is developing thriving communities to help them develop new commercial activities; and to promote a healthy environment. Anglo American is working to be the company that governments and communities choose to develop their mineral resources, he said.
15. “Imagine a world without mining,” he invited us. “Mining’s contribution to society is enormous. Without mining we could only produce half the amount of food we currently produce. We are well positioned to supply a consumer world, a greener world and an interconnected electrified world.” [I recalled the publication, in 2009, of the report Philippines: Mining or Food? This made clear that the expansion of mining in the Philippines was diminishing food production because of competition for land and severe pollution of soil and water. Anglo American was at the time interested in mining in that country. I recalled also the slump in food production in La Guajira, Colombia, since the construction of the Cerrejón opencast coal mine, of which Anglo American owns one third.]
Questions from shareholders
Worker safety and shareholding by independent directors
16. The first question was from a man who described himself as a ‘returning shareholder’ – he had sold his shares a few years previously when the company seemed to be doing poorly but had recently bought shares again. He said that all independent directors should buy shares in the company and that Ian Ashby had not done so. He was also concerned about the company’s safety performance: five workers had lost their lives in 2018. He said that the company had said that it is group policy to reduce these incidents to zero and that each incident is subject to vigorous investigation. What has management actually done? The number of fatalities is much too high. “You are not improving,” he said. “There are problems in your operations. What are you doing specifically in new operations in South America?”
17. Stuart Chambers replied that the view that non-executive directors should own shares in the company was not a universal view. “Some in the governance community believe that non-executive directors owning shares may be too concerned about short-term benefit,” he said. So the company leaves share buying to the discretion of non-executive directors. Executive directors are expected to buy shares and retain them well after their service to avoid short-termism.
18. Ian Ashby added that he believed he could execute his duties as an independent director without buying shares in the company. “I have made a conscious choice that I won’t invest,” he said. The shareholder retorted that about 90% of independent non-executive directors in FTSE 100 companies do hold shares in their companies. Stuart Chambers said that it was up to independent non-executive directors to do what they think right.
19. Stuart Chambers went on, “Regarding safety and loss of lives, you asked what actions are being taken. You said you were concerned at the lack of progress. Fatalities result from underlying unsafe practices and progress on underlying measures has been significant.”
20. Mark Cutifani added, “In the last ten years we have improved 90% and in the last six years 65%. We still have to get to zero. We have been changing operating processes to change our work. We still have in certain areas procedures not being properly followed and this may be because we are making procedures too complex, so we are trying to simplify things to make things clearer. We had the top 200 leaders of the industry a month ago and this was the number one issue stalked about. We need the right procedures to make it easier for people to work safely.” This was why the company had established the Elimination of Fatalities Taskforce. Resourcing for the work had been increased by a factor of seven or eight times.
Political risk management in South Africa
21. Another shareholder asked about political risk management. He said he had family connections in South Africa. He was concerned that a growing rift between poor and rich was creating political problems. He said there was a trend for people of European descent to emigrate from South Africa. There was increasing concern about the ANC government seeking to expropriate agricultural land. In light of these concerns, what could Anglo American do to maintain good relations with the South African government and avoid expropriation of mineral assets?
22. Stuart Chambers replied that the split between rich and poor and consequent tensions were not restricted to South Africa. He said that land expropriation without compensation does not affect Anglo American as mining and prospecting rights do not depend on ownership of the surface. He said that the company wanted political stability and consistency and that relations with the government are critical. The company makes a lot of effort to maintain relations with the South African government. “The situation at the moment is that law has not changed,” he said. The President, on behalf of the ANC, had issued a political manifesto intent but “they may or may not go ahead with it.”
23. A representative of campaign organisation ShareAction said that it was pleasing to see Anglo American highlighting engagement with stakeholders as the key to its climate change principles. In connection with the Paris Agreement on climate change, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and others had spoken of the importance of ensuring that workers have a just transition. Over 100 large institutional investors have now spoken in favour of a just transition to reduce inequality and mitigate climate change. A pro-growth, pro-jobs transition from fossil fuels is necessary. Social protection and wage guarantees are necessary. Governments may make regulations which will affect Anglo American’s operations. Would Anglo American publish a policy on just transition by the 2020 company AGM and would it do so in collaboration with trade unions? ShareAction would be happy to work with the company on this.
24. Stuart Chambers said that the company was fully committed to reducing carbon emissions in all that it does. It has very clear targets for 2030. They take it towards significant reduction of carbon. It would be reporting not only on its scope 1 and scope 2 but also its scope 3 emissions (carbon emissions caused by the use of its products). A lot of technology work is going on to identify the technical and economic progress needed to achieve net zero carbon mining. Still, there is disagreement among very experienced people in defining a standard way of understanding this. “We must not hold ourselves to plans that are not properly thought through,” he said. “We need a clear idea of what we are going to do and how we are going to do it.”
25. Mark Cutifani said that the company was “aligned regarding a just transition. We are more than happy to commit to work with employees in turning the conversation into one that we can all be part of. We are committed to working through the just transition process and involving all our workforce.”
26. Stuart Chambers added that the company would update ShareAction on the progress it was making, “but to commit to a policy by an AGM date may be rash,” he said. “We will certainly update on where we are on that journey.”
Membership of industry associations
27. A representative of Influence Map asked the Chairman to confirm that the results of the company’s Industry Association Membership Review was on the company’s website, as he had been unable to find it. Stuart Chambers said that it was indeed on the company’s website but had only been posted in the previous day or two. The Influence Map representative asked whether the company would leave any trade group if it had failed to reform its lobbying practices by the end of the stated time-frame.
28. Stuart Chambers said that Anglo American had contracted the work out to a third party. It had reviewed the positions of 71 industry associations of which Anglo American was a member. Five were identified where there was some misalignment (though it was not material) between Anglo American’s goals and those of the industry associations in question. “We have a view that where there is misalignment the best thing you can do for a reasonable length of time is to engage and try to change view of the association,” he said. “If progress is not made, maybe you need to pull out, but we have not reached that position with any of the industry associations yet and we do not plan to exit any of the five associations.”
29. The Influence Map representative asked at what point the company would conclude that it had been bashing its head against a brick wall for too long. Stuart Chambers replied that it depended on the issue, and in the five cases the areas of disagreement were smaller than the areas of agreement, so Anglo American could not put a date on pulling out – it would take a few years rather than a few months to change things, but probably less than ten years.
30. Mark Cutifani added that in the case of taking responsibility for supply chains, Anglo American was the last mining company involved in those processes because other companies abandoned the industry association for lack of progress, whereas Anglo American had managed to change the association from within. “We think with those five associations for the next few years there is potential for making progress,” he said.
31. The Influence Map representative said that Influence Map would welcome it if Anglo American were more transparent about how it was changing the conversation in industry associations and who it was engaging with within them. Stuart Chambers suggested that they write to the company after they had read the company’s report. The Influence Map representative asked if the letter could be an open letter and whether it would receive an open response, and Stuart Chambers agreed to this.
The Los Bronces copper project in Chile
32. Sebastian Ordonez, of LMN member group War on Want, asked about the company’s Los Bronces copper operation in Chile. He said: “You recently announced that you would scrap your $3 billion dollar investment in Los Bronces if studies indicated the plan could harm nearby glaciers or if there is major opposition from local communities in Chile. You also say that all of your data proves that you can mine the copper without doing any damage to the glaciers and without affecting the groundwater.
33. “However, as you know, a combination of rising temperatures and mining activity has already sped up melting of the ice that’s been there for thousands of years, with some glaciers having visibly disappeared. Communities and experts argue that some of the glaciers close to Los Bronces are already melting at a faster pace than others further away.
34. “With regard to your projects specifically, there are serious community concerns over various parts of your operation which they argue are having an impact on the glaciers that could be catastrophic for the ecosystems, lands, communities and cities downstream in the medium and long term.
35. “There are concerns that airborne dust particles are being deposited on mountain tops, speeding up the melting process.
36. “There are concerns about the operations in the high mountains, where the burning of fossil fuels, the camps’ heating systems, the machinery, the installations generate enormous amounts of heat – which is also deposited on the mountaintops, also speeding up the melting process.
37. “There are concerns about mining permafrost which critically influences behaviour of water both on and underneath the earth’s surface.
38. “And there are serious concerns that the underground mining tunnels being built could bring the tunnels dangerously close to the surface as all the material is excavated.
39. “We know that glaciers are already being heavily impacted by climate change, and that millions of people depend on these glaciers for their water. Glaciers are also critical for the adaptation process for the current ecological and climate crisis we are facing. Glaciers act as an adaptation mechanism for hydrological systems by storing water that then melts and is released into the tributaries that source the water for Santiago, Chile’s capital, where half the Chilean population lives.
40. “You say in your sustainability strategy that you want to reduce carbon by 30% in your operations, and that you aspire to reduce freshwater use by 50% in water-scarce regions, so my question is:
41. “To what extent have you evaluated the impact of high mountain excavation on different types of ice, and on all of the other functions that the glaciers provide to the ecosystems, communities, livelihoods and populations that are..
Our friends in Wayuu indigenous organisation Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu have received fresh death threats. Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu has been constant in its calls for justice for communities affected by the Cerrejon coal mine in La Guajira, Colombia. The mine is owned by London-listed multinationals Anglo American, BHP and Glencore. The most recent threats were issued on Monday 29 April, the day before the AGM of Anglo American in London. The last time such serious threats were issued was just before the October 2018 London AGM of BHP. It is unclear whether the timing was deliberate.
Please read the comunique below from Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu and send a protest email to the Colombian government offices listed below it.
Comunique from Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu
We denounce stigmatization, persecution and threats
We declare ourselves in permanent defence of
Wounmainkat – Our Land, Wüinkat – The Water,
Kataa o’u – Life and Anajirrra A’in – Peace.
This time the threats have been targeted towards our movement and the people it comprises. We have completed 14 years of tireless work, in which our only weapon has been The Word that we raise in defence of what we consider just, for the protection of Wounmainkat – Our Mother Earth, our rights and the right to life in peace.
We denounce and repudiate the new strategies of threats that have been carried out this time by “Aguilas Negras – Bloque Capital D.C.” through fake profiles on social media that, since April 29 at 3.50 pm, have published a flyer in which we are persecuted, stigmatised and threatened.
We refer here to the facts in detail which demonstrate a new collective threat against our movement Wayuu Women’s Force – Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu – Sütsüin Jiyeyuu Wayuu, and which specifically identifies the names of persons in our movement.
Many of us in the movement started to receive message alerts from people close to us, that there was a flyer circulating on social media in which we were threatened.
Around 4 in the afternoon on 29 April, using a profile from the social media Facebook under the name of “Pedro Lastra”, two images were published and shared: one referring to threats in 2018 in which the logos of our organisation appeared together with those representing the Movement Wayuu Nation – Movimiento Nacion Wayuu, the Wayuu Organisation Araurayu – La Organización Wayuu Araurayu, and the National Organisation of Indigenous of Colombia – ONIC. The second image has the logo specifically of La Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu, and it also directly identified the names and surnames of 6 of our members: Karmen Ramírez, Miguel Ramirez, Jakeline Romero, Deris Paz, Luis Misael Socarras and Dulcy Cotes.
The publication from the “Pedro Lastra” Facebook profile has comment that tags two other people: Carlos Daniel Hernández and Rosa María Cano. When checking back on Facebook to obtain information about “Pedro Lastra” by around 9pm, the profile had already been deleted.
It is not the first time that misogynist and hate campaigns have been launched against La Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu; we have also been threatened with death, and the persecution that we have had to face has even obliged some people from our movement to flee the territory. Despite the complaints we have raised with the appropriate institutions, this has not secured that we can continue doing our work for the defence of peace, our rights, the rights of Wounmainkat – Mother Earth – and our own lives without danger.
In a decisive way, we, the members of the Movement Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu – Sütsüin Jiyeyuu Wayuu, declare ourselves: In permanent defence of the rights of Wounmainkat – Our Mother Earth. In permanent defence of the Peace that we have helped to build from our struggles. In permanent defence of the water, territory and life itself.
Since the threats made against us on 10 October 2018, there has not been any result from our complaints. Once again, we hold the Colombian State responsible for any attack against our work or our lives. Once again, we make the following:
We ask the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to grant precautionary measures to the Movement Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu – Sütsüin Jiyeyuu Wayuu, to be able to continue to our work for the defence of Wounmainkat – Our Land, Winkat – The Water, Kataa o’ui – Life, and Anajirra A’in – Peace.
We ask the current Government to initiate an immediate plan of action to guarantee the fulfilment of the rulings issued in favour of Indigenous Peoples by the Constitutional Court to avoid the extermination of our peoples as a result of war. In addition, we ask that this request be answered as a matter of priority, given the serious risk in which we find ourselves, in order to protect our lives.
We call on the Diplomatic Missions and Corps accredited in Colombia to monitor the delicate and vulnerable situation of Wayuu human rights defenders. We also ask that you demand that the current Government fulfil the Peace Agreements, as well as its commitments taken on internationally on the issue of human rights, particularly those related to Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights Defenders.
We urge the National Protection Unit – Unidad Nacional de Protección (UNP) to re-evaluate the measures of the protection plan for Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu – Sütsüin Jiyeyuu Wayuu, as well as to strengthen these strategies from a holistic point of view that considers spiritual protection as part of the programme, which will allow us to guarantee not only the work in our territory, but also the protection of life.
Wajira – Wounmaikat. 30 April 2019
Please send a protest email to the government agencies listed below.
We at London Mining Network suggest that you write:
Dear President Duque,
I am concered about recent threats to members of Indigenous organisation Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu in La Guajira. A few days ago, leaders of this organisation received death threats from paramilitary organisation Aguilas Negras in Bogota. Those named includedKarmen Ramírez, Miguel Iván Ramírez, Jakeline Romero, Deris Paz, Luis Misael Socarra and Dulcy Cotes.
It is clear that these threats have been made because of the organisation’s work for human rights and environmental justice in La Guajira. Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu has been prominent in the struggle for justice for Indigenous and African-descent communitiesaffected by the Cerrejon coal mine, owned by three companies listed on the London Stock Exchange.
I urge you to ensure that the threatened leaders are given protection and that those involved in making these threats are investigated and brought to justice. The armed groups involved must be disbanded and the security of all the Indigenous and African-descentcommunities of La Guajira must be guaranteed.
Please send to:
Dr. Iván Duque Márquez
Presidencia de la República
CALLE 7 No. 6 – 54 Palacio de Nariño,
Oficina en Colombia del Alto Comisionado de Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos
Dr Michael Frühling
Calle 113 No. 7-45 Torre B Oficina 1101. Edificio Teleport Business Park. Bogotá, D.C.
Anglo American is a British mining company that has roots in South Africa, its headquarters in London, and is listed on the London Stock Exchange. It mines for diamonds, copper, platinum, coal, iron ore, nickel and manganese in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, USA and Latin America.
Why did we protest Anglo American’s AGM?
A coalition of organisations – War on Want, Medact, Yes to Life, No to Mining, Global Women’s Strike and Colombia Solidarity Campaign and others – campaigned outside Anglo American’s annual shareholder meeting on 30 April to stand in solidarity with mining-affected communities. As well as Anglo American being part-owned by a British company, the City of London is extremely significant as the global financial hub of the extractive industry, of which mining is a huge part. This means that what happens in London has an impact on the climate and on communities around the world. In our demonstration outside and during interventions in the AGM, we called on shareholders to divest from Anglo American and on the company (usually represented by CEO Mark Cutifani), to clean up their act, because…
Outside Anglo American AGM. Credit: LMN
…Anglo American is damaging the health of communities & workers
Anglo American owns a one-third stake in the infamous Cerrejón mine, a vast open pit coal mine in Colombia. Indigenous communities living near the mine are forced to breathe air that is heavy with coal dust and filled with the smell of burning. The air pollution is reported to be causing serious respiratory problems, skin conditions, and cancer in children and adults living close to the mine. Cerrejón employees also face occupational diseases, such as occupational asthma, occupational tuberculosis and silicosis.
The company reported 101 new cases of occupational disease for 2018, up from 96 cases in 2017, and five fatal accidents.
Question comes in about Anglo American’s #ZeroHarm safety policies, and the 5 people who lost their lives in 2018. What actions are being taken?
Response: Cutifani emphasises that Anglo has increased resourcing of ‘elimination of fatalities taskforce’. #AngloAmericanAGM
ShareAction asked if Anglo American would commit to publishing a Just Transition policy, in collaboration with unions, by the company’s 2020 AGM:
Cutifani says Anglo American is “absolutely aligned” with the just transition, which he says they are already in.@ShareAction push on a policy.
Chambers says they won’t commit, as it would be “rash”.
— LondonMiningNetwork (@londonmining) April 30, 2019
…Anglo American is damaging planetary health
Climate breakdown is already impacting the health of hundreds of millions of people around the world. Mining corporations like Anglo American are responsible for a considerable portion of global carbon emissions and other devastating environmental impacts. As the climate crisis propels the world to move away from coal, Anglo American is stubbornly clinging on to this carbon-intense fossil fuel.
Credit: Aldo, Democracy Center
…Anglo American is threatening glaciers and water supplies
Coal Action Network challenged Anglo American’s claims about the diversion of the Bruno River in La Guajira, the community in Colombia impacted by the Cerrejon mine (of which Anglo American owns a third). They described water running black, crops dying, and people falling ill, and asked how Anglo American would use its influence to address this:
Cutifani says Anglo American are happy to follow up on this after the AGM… But says resettlement processes have been improved a lot over time and says Anglo has championed these at Cerrejon.
In Peru, Anglo American’s Quellaveco project has raised serious concerns and opposition among local people. It is believed that copper mining in this region will use vast amounts of water in an area that has experienced drought and is vulnerable to other climate impacts. There are fears that Anglo American’s mining in Chile is speeding up the melting process of glaciers, leading to their disappearance in some cases.
London Mining Network researcher Paul Robson asked CEO Mark Cutifani about water stress in Brazil and Minas Rio, around the site of a mine, and what was being done to protect local people’s access to water:
Cutifani: attributes over use of water to process of improving efficiency. Looking at tech to improve water recycling and reduce usage. Want to decrease water use by 50% at Minas Rio and across operations#AngloAmericanAGM
Anglo American’s metallurgical and thermal coal projects, the most polluting fossil fuel projects across the world, remain central to their operations despite token efforts to sugar-coat this with a reduction in their operational greenhouse gas emissions.
The UN Environment Programme has revealed that resource extraction and processing make up approximately 50 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, making plans for a green industrial strategy prefaced on continuing extraction are simply not realistic, because this positions mining companies as the solution-bearers to the climate crisis, and not as the enablers and polluters that they are.
Climate Action 100 group of investors asks Anglo American to accelerate progress on climate change. Chair of Anglo American, Stuart Chambers, answered:
Chambers: Says Anglo American Won’t be setting a date for zero emissions–points to difficulties in quantifying carbon in supply chains.
Basically says that committing to zero carbon would be too difficult.#AngloAmericanAGM
At one point during the three hour meeting, the CEO Mark Cutifani said: “if it’s not grown it must be mined”. That sums up the company’s, and the industry’s, response pretty well… the full report of the AGM will be online soon.
(Big thanks to Hal for the tweets and Aldo for photos)