Sandfire angry over ANU blacklisting
Sandfire Resources will explore legal options after the council of the Australian National University announced it will divest its holding in the Australian copper/gold junior, along with several other miners, on ethical grounds.
ANU has decided to divest its holdings in seven mining companies.
ANU announced on October 3 that an independent review of its domestic equities, commissioned by the University as part of its Socially Responsible Investment Policy, would result in the divestment of ANU’s holdings in Iluka Resources, Independence Group, Newcrest Mining, Sandfire Resources, Oil Search, Santos and Sirius Resources.
The move is not incredibly significant financially – the stocks represent approximately 1% cent of the university’s total investment portfolio – but ANU’s move to ‘blacklist’ mining companies has been received as part of the growing trend towards ethical divestment against the mining industry.
And one of the companies publicly singled out by the university, Sandfire Resources, says it’s being treated unfairly.
Chief executive Karl Simich reportedly told Fairfax the company will explore its legal rights, and said the ANU-commissioned study was “one of the most appalling and misleading and categorically incorrect and false reports or profiles I have ever read in my entire life.”
Corporate Analysis Enhanced Responsibility (CAER), the independent research organisation hired by the ANU to conduct the study, says it offers research services on a broad range of environmental and social criteria.
The CAER profile of Sandfire says the company’s policies relating to the environment are inadequate. Sandfire, however, insists that it has extensive environmental management, and an outstanding environmental record.
“We reserve all of our rights and we’ll be seeking legal advice and to the extent we can we’ll pursue the matter formally,” Simich was quoted as saying.
“We’ll be looking for a full retraction of the negative statements made by any parties in the media because they [are] misleading, false and untrue.”
Regardless of the accuracy of CAER’s report, ANU’s ‘moral decision’ to blacklist the companies has drawn questions from some.
Independence Group and Sirius Resources are part of the nickel sector, and nickel is a crucial part of electric car batteries and other key environmental industries. The mineral sands produced by Iluka Resources also have several modern applications, including use in paints, plastics, paper, foods and ceramics.