REPRESENTATIVES of the mining industry met at Lambeth Palace
earlier this month for a day of reflection.
Hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the President of the
Methodist Conference, the event was held in response to a request
from "senior representatives of a group of mining companies"
seeking "Christian ethical input to their conversations about the
future of their industry", a statement from Lambeth Palace said. It
explored "how mining can contribute to the Common Good in the years
During the event, Archbishop Welby suggested that "the
natural-resources curse undermines even responsible companies' best
efforts, even in highly developed countries," and asked why the
"large majority of resource-rich regions have not benefited from
those resources in the long term".
The chief executive of Anglo American, Mark Cutifani, said: "The
mining industry is about people and relationships. . . If we do not
reach out and collaborate, our industry is not sustainable."
The Church Commissioners have significant invesments in the
mining industry, including stakes in Anglo American, Antofagasta,
BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, and Glencore. On the day of reflection,
Rio Tinto confirmed that it had rejected a takeover bid from
Glencore, preventing the creation of the world's largest publicly
listed mining company.
On Tuesday of last week, the Church Commissioners' head of
responsible investment, Edward Mason, spoke of discussions with
Glencore as an example of successful engagement with the industry:
"The Ethical Investment Advisory Group raised concerns about
sulphur-dioxide pollution from Glencore's copper-smelter in
Mufulira in Zambia, having received reports of health problems in
the community from the diocese of Bath & Wells, whose link with
the Anglican dioceses in Zambia dates to the 1970s. Glencore
subsequently brought forward its investment plans, so that
sulphur-dioxide capture was implemented at the smelter early and
completed this year rather than by 2015, as the company had
"Very rarely, the EIAG finds that it is unable to engage
In 2010, the Church Commissioners and the Church of England
Pensions Board sold their £3.8-million holdings in the UK-based
company Vedanta Resources over "concerns about the company's
approach to relations with the communities where it operates"
(News, 10 February 2010).
The vice-chair of Operation Noah, Mark Letcher, speaking
Wednesday of last week, welcomed the "consideration" being given to
mining by the churches, "particularly at a time when we know that
the major part of existing reserves of fossil fuels need to remain
in the ground, in order to maintain a healthy and viable
He said: "We are calling on the Church Commissioners to join the
growing number of Churches in the UK and around the world
disinvesting from fossil-fuel companies, and to invest instead in
companies developing clean-energy alternatives."
At the opening of a new mine in Central Queensland on Monday of
last week, the Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbot, spoke out
in favour of the continued mining of coal. He said: "Let's have no
demonisation of coal. Coal is good for humanity; coal is good for
prosperity; coal is an essential part of our economic future, here
in Australia, and right around the world."