Top Stories

May 29, 2018


Leading copper producer pushes for gender diversity – with all-male board

The world’s biggest copper producer based in Chile, Codelco, became the only major mining company with an all-male board and senior management team last week. Gender diversity is one of Codelco’s strategic objectives, according to its annual report. But the state-owned company has no women in top management, including vice presidents or mine managers. Women make up just 5.4 percent of the company’s senior administrators and 9.5 percent of its total workforce, although this is higher compared to the average figure in Chilean mines. By comparison, BHP Billiton, Vale and Anglo American have three women on their boards, Antofagasta and Freeport-McMoRan have two. When asked about the lack of women on Codelco’s board, the mining ministry referred to previous comments by Mining Minister Baldo Prokurica: “We are fulfilling the commitment of appointing the best people to state-owned companies.” (Bloomberg)

Responsible Investment

World’s largest insurers stalling on UN climate challenges

A handful of insurance firms in Europe are showing true leadership on climate change, and are actively managing the financial risks it poses in capital markets. However, nine out of ten investment strategies in the sector fail to align with the Paris Agreement goals, according to the report, “Got it covered? Insurance in a changing climate”. The report was produced by the Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP), part of responsible investment organisation ShareAction. It examines 80 of the world’s largest insurers, with assets worth $15 trillion, based on their management of material climate risk. Results show that the UK takes two of the top four spots in the climate leaders category, with the US insurers that formed part of the assessment were among the worst performers. The top-rated insurance firms are AXA followed by Aviva, and Allianz and Legal & General. AODP analysed insurers’ disclosures based on industry (TCFD) recommendations covering: climate strategy, climate risk management, and targets. The research drew on both publicly available information and private survey responses. (ShareAction)

Read more: Mike Tuffrey’s blog ‘Climate risks – an opportunity for plain speaking and taking action’


European Commission moves to ban single-use plastics

The European Commission on Monday proposed banning single-use plastic products such as cotton buds and plastic straws and putting the burden of cleaning up waste on manufacturers in an effort to reduce marine litter. Under the proposal, single-use plastic products with readily available alternatives will be banned and replaced with more environmentally sustainable materials. The proposal also requires EU countries to collect 90 percent of single-use plastic drink bottles by 2025 and producers to help cover costs of waste management and clean-up. “Plastic waste is undeniably a big issue and Europeans need to act together to tackle this problem, because plastic waste ends up in our air, our soil, our oceans, and in our food,” said EU Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans. Earlier this year, Britain also said it planned to ban the sale of plastic straws and other single-use products. The Commission proposal will still need to be approved by the European Parliament and Council, and the Commission said it hoped for it to be given the green light before the European elections in May 2019. (CNBC)


Renewables not to blame for rising power costs: ACCC boss

Renewable energy cannot be blamed for the rising cost of power bills, according to the boss of Australia’s consumer watchdog. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims told a lunch in Brisbane the main reason power prices had increased was increasing network costs. “Which have got pretty well nothing to do with whether the energy is generated from renewable energy sources or coal-fired power,” Mr Sims said. “They’ve gone up a fair bit because of retail costs and margins.” Mr Sims said a “fair bit of the affordability story” had nothing to do with the climate debate. “The debate gets so polarised that we ignore the rest of the value chain,” he said. Mr Sims said some renewable energy was extremely cheap, but it was not reliably dispatchable. The ACCC is due to hand down its final report following a national inquiry into the supply of retail electricity and the competitive of retail electricity prices next month. Mr Sims said the ACCC would look at how to bring network, environmental and retail costs down, and how to make the retail market less opaque and easier to deal with. (Sydney Morning Herald)


De Beers to sell diamonds made in a lab

For the first time in its 130-year history, De Beers will sell diamond jewelry made in a lab rather than underground over billions of years. The move is a historic shift for the world’s biggest diamond miner. The diamonds will be marketed in the U.S. under the name Lightbox, a fashion jewelry brand, and sell for a fraction of the price of mined gems. The strategy will create a big price gap between mined and lab diamonds and pressure rivals that specialize in synthesized stones. A 1-carat man-made diamond sells for about $4,000 and a similar natural diamond fetches roughly $8,000. De Beers new lab diamonds will sell for about $800 a carat. “Lightbox will transform the lab-grown diamond sector by offering consumers a lab-grown product they have told us they want but aren’t getting: affordable fashion jewelry that may not be forever, but is perfect for right now,” said Bruce Cleaver, chief executive officer of De Beers. Diamonds grown in labs have the same physical characteristics and chemical makeup as mined stones and it is hoped that the cheaper price tag and improved sustainability profile will appeal to millennial consumers. (Bloomberg)



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