Rio Tinto to enter sustainable index

17 September 2007

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Rio Tinto would be the first uranium-involved company listed on FTSE4Good. In fact BHP Billiton has been listed since 2005.

Mining giant Rio Tinto is set to join the FTSE4Good index, having fulfilled the business index's criteria for socially responsible mining of uranium.

The FTSE4Good index series was launched in 2001 for investors that wanted to only invest in companies with good standards of corporate responsibility and that minimize social and environmental risk.

The index had in the past excluded uranium mining and nuclear power companies, lumping them with the tobacco and weapons industries among others, but has recently completed a revision of the 'negative screen' that excluded them. For these companies there is now a series of criteria that come in addition to the index's demanding requirements for companies with potential to have high environmental and social impacts.

Companies involved in uranium mining and processing may apply to FTSE4Good for listing, and Rio Tinto has announced that it is eligible for inclusion. It should become the index's second company from the nuclear industry, after BHP Billiton - a mining concern which was already included when it purchased WMC Resources complete with its Olympic Dam uranium mine. BHP's purchase occurred in 2005, during the time FTSE4Good was developing the new criteria.

Uranium mining is just one of Rio Tinto's activities. The global company, which is based in London, UK, produces also aluminium, borax, coal, copper, diamonds, gold, iron ore, salt and titanium dioxide.

Tom Albanese, Rio Tinto's chief executive said: "Nuclear power offers a clean, low carbon, stable source of energy for heat, light and power. Rio Tinto is committed to developing our uranium business in a sustainable and responsible way."

Brent Berg, manager of Cameco's Environmental Leadership department welcomed the development. He told World Nuclear News
: "This is clearly in recognition of thefundamental similarities between uranium mining and the mining of any othermineral commodity. We would like tobelieve it is also in part, recognition of the pivotal role that the uraniumindustry plays in bringing the multiple benefits of nuclear power to the world - clean, safe and affordable electricity. With this in mind we encouragesimilar action by FTSE4Good regarding inclusion of companies who own oroperate nuclear power plants."

FTSE4Good uranium mining criteria

FTSE4Good is meant to measure the performance of socially responsiblecompanies and facilitate investment in them. Its criteria are approvedby an independent expert panel after market consultation. Companiesmust provide evidence that they are prepared for their responsibilitiesunder entry criteria and must provide extensive reports to demonstratetheir compliance.

Among other things, criteria for inclusion of a uranium company include commitments to:
  • Fund site decommissioning, and manage the social impacts of mine closure.
  • Minimise and monitor biodiversity and ecological impact.
  • Provide clear descriptions of how radioactive waste is managed on site.
  • Keep below specific radiation exposures to employees.
  • Monitor the chain of custody of uranium products, disclosing customers and the location of products.
  • Not supply uranium for nuclear weapons.
  • Not supply uranium for any other uses in conventional weaponry.
  • Take appropriate action, such as terminating relationships and informing authorities, if products are used in unacceptable ways.
  • Report the end use of all uranium.
These requirements come in addition to national and internationalregulations and treaties and practices such as the Nuclearnon-Proliferation Treaty, as administered by the International AtomicEnergy Agency.

Further information

FTSE4Good: FTSE4Good Uranium Mining Criteria
BHP Billiton
Rio Tinto

Uranium Mining information paper

WNN: Environmentalists should consider nuclear

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