BHP Fine words, foul play

photo credit Jessie Boylan.

BHP Group’s Annual General Meetings are coming up on 14 October (BHP Group Limited, Australia) and 15 October (BHP Group plc, London) but with very limited opportunities for shareholders to participate.

BHP Group plc is holding a ‘shareholder engagement session’ on 23 September, but unlike in Rio Tinto’s session in April [https://londonminingnetwork.org/2020/04/remote-control-rio-tintos-agm-and-shareholder-engagement-session-london-8-april-2020/] shareholders will not be able to appoint proxies, so representatives of communities affected by BHP’s activities will not be able to participate unless they happen to be shareholders themselves.

Even shareholders can only listen in and submit written questions, which the company Chairman may or may not choose to answer. The company has also announced that shareholders will not receive individual answers to their questions and that neither the questions nor the answers will be published on the company’s website. Anglo American, Antofagasta and Beowulf all published shareholders’ written questions and the company’s answers on their websites. This enabled us at LMN to ensure that communities affected by those companies’ operations could ask difficult questions and receive responses – even if we were not satisfied with those responses. BHP has distinguished itself from its peers by opting for secrecy and restricting the possibilities for those affected by their operations to have their voices heard.

We will publish the questions that our colleagues in BHP-affected communities want us to ask the company and will ask other shareholders to urge the company to answer them all publicly. BHP is the world’s largest mining company. It would be an outrage if it also opted to be among the most secretive.

Meanwhile, here is a summary of the concerns that we and our partners have. BHP talks a good talk. It should also walk it.