World's biggest miner votes to stay in fossil fuel lobby groups

72.93 per cent of shareholders vote against axing BHP Group’s membership in pro-coal lobby groups

Australian shareholders of BHP Group, the world’s biggest mining group, voted against a resolution to axe its membership in industry lobby groups that promote policies at odds with the goals of the Paris climate change accord.

Final votes after BHP’s annual general meeting (AGM) in Sydney showed 72.93 per cent rejected the resolution. At the London AGM last month, only 22.16 per cent of votes supported the motion.

The Sydney gathering represented about 58 per cent of all BHP shareholders, with the remaining 42 per cent in London.

Last month Aberdeen Standard Investments, part of Standard Life Aberdeen and one of BHP’s biggest shareholders spoke out in favour of the resolution, Reuters reported.

“Climate change is a complex problem,” chairman Ken MacKenzie said at the Sydney AGM. “If we are to successfully develop solutions we need to collaborate. We need to work together. And industry associations provide a vital forum for that collaboration.”

However, ethical investors claimed the result represented some success, with 29.58 per cent of proxy votes in favour of the resolution. A further 0.62 per cent abstained.

Last month BHP said it was turning to renewable energy to power its copper operations in Chile. The company announced that the Escondida and Spence copper mines, which are currently coal-powered, will run off nothing but wind and solar power by the mid 2020s.

The miner also recently approved $44 million (£34m, €39m) to restart work at the Samarco iron ore mine in Brazil, following the collapse of the Fundão dam in 2015, which killed at least 17 people.

Over the next five years, BHP has pledged to spend $400 million (£312m, €361m) to reduce carbon emissions and will also set public goals in 2020 on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from its products even after they have been sold.

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