Traditional owners, environmentalists and shareholders used BHP Billiton’s AGM last Thursday to launch the fourth ‘Alternative Annual Report’. Titled Dirty Deeds, the report reveals the risks to investors of the company’s environmental and social performance.
Kevin Buzzacott, Arabunna elder, said: ‘BHP owns the Olympic Dam mine in South Australia; they have been taking water from my country for years to operate it. Uranium from that mine was being used in the reactors at Fukushima. In July this year over 500 people joined me at the gates to protest its expansion. It’s a toxic legacy for my people and the world. The whole uranium industry is risky business and a bad investment. We have seen what it can do and we want BHP Billiton out of the desert.’
Colombian unionist Edwin Mejia attended the AGM to question the BHP Board in relation to the Cerrejon coal mine there, which is one-third BHP owned.
‘The health situation of the workers in the mine has become one of the main concerns of our unions and the international community. Today there are 700 workers suffering diseases related to the mine working conditions,’ Mr Mejia said.
Wilderness Society Marine Campaigner Jenita Enevoldsen said: ‘In regards to the proposed industrial development at James Price Point, BHP and the other joint-venture partners could save around $10 billion by choosing alternatives like floating or piping Browse gas. These alternatives could also avoid damaging a pristine National Heritage-listed coastline that is globally significant because of its unique marine life and intact nature.’
‘BHP is the largest mining company in the world. It operates mines on every continent except Antarctica. Its operations make a massive contribution to climate change and are closely linked to the safety risks associated with the nuclear fuel cycle. BHP Billiton should be big enough to know what a bad investment looks like and move away from dangerous portfolios such as uranium,’ said Tully McIntyre of Friends of the Earth.