BHP considering Minerals Council exit over lobby group's climate policies

BHP considering Minerals Council exit over lobby group's climate policies

BHP considering Minerals Council exit over lobby group's climate policies

Updated 19 September 2017, 19:45 AEST

Activist investors are putting BHP's already testy relationship with the big industry lobbyist under more pressure over climate change policies.

Australia's biggest miner BHP has confirmed it is reconsidering its membership of the country's peak mining lobby, the Minerals Council.

BHP announced it would review its membership of all industry associations, and publish the findings, by the end of this year.

The review comes hot on the tail of a demand by activist shareholders that the miner sever ties with the council, which successfully advocated for the abolition of the carbon price and is currently lobbying the Federal Government to reject a clean energy target.

"We are aware that some civil society and other organisations believe that, where an industry body advocates for a position which does not align with our own, we should cease to be a member of that industry body," BHP said in a statement issued overnight.

The activist's resolution to be tabled at the company's AGM next month is also calling for BHP to terminate its membership of the World Coal Association which, along with the Minerals Council, is also calling for a rejection of a clean energy target.

The resolution was lodged on Friday, and it appears to have hit on some issues already being discussed in the BHP boardroom.

BHP and Minerals Council not eye-to-eye

Last month, the miner's head of external affairs, Geoff Healey, threw the first punch in a speech at a Minerals Council event, saying the two weren't seeing eye to eye on some issues.

"We recognise that we need to do even more to publicise where we hold materially different positions to those expressed by industry associations, including the MCA. And we will."

Brynn O'Brien, the director of the Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, which wrote the resolution, welcomed BHP's review of its membership of organisations.

"Obviously BHP understands, as well as its investors, that membership of the [Minerals Council] comes with profound risks to shareholder value. We are pleased that BHP has acknowledged these risks," she said.

"The [Minerals Council] has demonstrated a pattern of vociferous and influential lobbying which has obstructed progress on policy in Australia towards achieving policy measures aimed at restoring stability to Australia's energy markets and taking evidence-based action on climate change.

"BHP's positions on several key policy issues are at odds with these lobbying activities."

BHP has said it will consider the resolutions at the AGM, however the board is not recommending them to shareholders.

The Minerals Council of Australia declined to comment.