European investors are partnering to implement a global tailings dam standard for mining companies they own through the creation of an independent institute.
The £2.8 billion ($3.7 billion) Church of England Pensions Board, London, and the Council on Ethics of the Swedish National Pension Funds, Stockholm, announced Friday they are joining together to launch the institute.
Following the 2019 Brumadinho tailings dam disaster in Brazil in which an earthen dam was breached, resulting in 270 deaths, investors have engaged with mining companies to develop a standard practice in efforts to avoid waste management disasters at mining sites, according to their websites. The standard was developed by investors in August, and the investors now want to establish an institute to apply the standard independently. A senior consultant will be recruited to lead the launch.
In addition, the investors supported by their peers with $21 trillion in assets asked more than 350 mining companies to confirm on their websites when they will comply with the new standard.
"The institute will have a key role in evolving the standard over time and in ensuring the independent verification that the standard is being applied as intended. We look forward to working in partnership with United Nations' Environment Programme, industry and other key stakeholders to ensure this institute is established with rigor and purpose," Adam Matthews, director of ethics and engagement for the Church of England Pensions Board, said in a news release.
John Howchin, secretary-general of the Swedish council, added in the release: "A key recommendation of the independent chairman of the (mining standards') review was for the creation of an independent international institute to govern the evolution of (this) standard and to ensure its implementation. We believe this is an essential next step to addressing the legacy of the Brumadinho disaster and are delighted to be working in partnership with UNEP to establish the institute in the coming year."
Separately, the Church of England Pensions Board along with CBF Church of England Funds, the church's investment office, and Church Commissioners for England restricted nine energy companies from their portfolios because they fell short on meeting carbon emission standards, the pensions board, said on Tuesday. The excluded companies were American Electric Power, Anhui Conch Cement Co. Ltd., Berkshire Hathaway Inc., FirstEnergy Corp., Formosa Petrochemical Corp., Korea Electric Power Corp., Oil & Natural Gas Corp., PPL Corp. and SAIC Motor Corp. Ltd. The Church of England's investments in these companies stood at £32.23 million as of Oct. 21.
On Thursday, a further group of energy companies including BP PLC, Eni SpA, Equinor ASA, Galp Energia SGPS SA, Occidental Petroleum Corp., Repsol SA, Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Total SE agreed to apply six energy transition principles in their business operations in efforts to reduce fossil fuels, the Church of England Pensions Board said on its website.