CoE welcomes BHP response over Brazilian dam collapse

The Church of England Pensions Board has welcomed the decision from BHP to call for an independent body to improve the safety and operation of all dams, following the tragic failing of the Vale dam in Brumadinho, Brazil.

The statement from BHP chief executive, Andrew Mackenzie, follows pressure from the Church of England and Sweden’s Public Pension Funds, along with other funds totalling £3trn of assets under management, which called for a “global independent classification system” to monitor the risk of mining company tailing dams.

The statement, which said the industry must "redouble its efforts" to ensure there was no repeat of disaster, which killed at least 166 people, with a further 147 still missing.

Church of England director of ethics and engagement, Adam Matthews, said: “I welcome the statement from BHP’s chief executive and recognition that events such as in Brazil cannot happen. Communities, workers, banks and investors need the assurance that best practice will become the new minimum requirement across the mining sector.

“Independence and transparency will be key to re-establishing trust and as investors we look forward to playing our part in working with global experts and industry in advancing the call we have made.”

According to the Church of England, investors will be attending a meeting on 4 April, chaired by the Church, which will advance the call for global dam safety.

Swedish Ethics Council secretary general, John Howchin, added: “I am very pleased to see BHP take leadership on this issue. We now need that leadership across the rest of the sector.”

Last month, the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPPF) wrote to Vale and its joint venture partner BHP Billiton over concerns it had about the collapse, adding that it will be holding meetings in order to review its response.

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