The world’s most profitable mining company, BHP Billiton, came in for varied criticisms at its London annual shareholder meeting last week. The “Big Australian”s failure to implement promises in Colombia; potential damage from a planned coal mine in Indonesia; and a possible violation of rights to self-determination by the people of Western Sahara, came under some scrutiny.
To the company, such issues are minor irritants. No doubt that’s also true of problems caused by emissions from its upgrade of the Mozal aluminium smelter in Mozambique – once vaunted by BHP Billiton as its model project.
Much more important to the directors in the near future is dealing with the recent failure to amalgamate their Australian iron ore operations with those of Rio Tinto –  a joint venture which could have added several billion dollars yearly to their profits.
Then there’s the Saskatchewan problem. Many in the province oppose BHP Billiton’s attempt to take over the world’s biggest potash miner. And that battle has now been joined by some indigenous First Nations. Mind you – while loyally beating the “pro-Saskatchewan” drum –  some of Potash Corp’s top executives also stand to gain a hefty pay-out, should BHP Billiton’s bid succeed. Or so says Toronto’s Globe and Mail.
In the end, and whatever the outcome of BHP Billiton’s current plays at maintaining its global ascendancy, it’s not likely that the poor or oppressed will stand first in line to toast any future company successes.
[Comment by Nostromo Research, 23 October 2010]
Conduct of world’s largest mining company under scrutiny
The rescue of the trapped Chilean miners recently captured the imagination of the world. But away from the television cameras, mining operations across the globe are causing untold devastation – destroying whole communities and wrecking the environment – a meeting  yesterday at the House of Lords was told. Multinational mining companies working in developing countries or countries with unstable governments have a particularly poor record. The meeting, chaired by Baroness Sue Miller of Chilthorne Domer and organised by the London Mining Network, was held the day before the world’s largest mining company, BHP Billiton,  held their AGM in London.
What part of ‘No’ does BHP Billiton not understand?
The world’s largest mining company has been urged to halt its coal mining operations on the Indonesian island of Borneo by representatives of indigenous people who report that mining “has destroyed our forests, rivers and livelihoods”. A day ahead of BHP Billiton’s London AGM on 21 October, they spoke to an “alternative report”, presented at the House of Lords during an evening meeting chaired by Baroness Sue Miller of Chilthorne Domer.
BHP reiterates call for a carbon tax
BHP Billiton is again calling for a carbon tax as the mining giant believes it faces “a lower strategic risk” than its rivals.