Top Stories

January 24, 2019


U.S. copper projects gain steam thanks to electric vehicle trend

U.S. copper deposits have quietly drawn more than $1.1 billion in investments from small and large miners alike as Tesla and other electric carmakers scramble for more of the red metal. Four U.S. copper projects are set to open by next year – the first to come online in more than a decade – with several mine expansions also underway across the country, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The rising popularity of electric vehicles, which use twice as much copper as internal combustion engines, and increasingly pro-mining policies in the U.S. are fueling the spending, according to mining executives and investors. Nevada Copper’s project has been largely supported by local residents in a state whose economy is linked to mining. But elsewhere, there has been opposition due to concerns about water rights and native lands. “Green technologies can have a dark side,” said John Hadder of Great Basin Resource Watch, a Nevada-based environmental group. (Reuters)

Corporate Reputation

Amazon knocked off top of UK consumer poll once ethics considered

Amazon has slipped down a list of companies ranked by customer satisfaction after consumers were asked to consider ethics when rating brands. The online retailer, which became the world’s most valuable listed company earlier this month, had taken the top spot in the last six published biannual UK Customer Satisfaction Indexes (UKSCI). But it slipped to fifth place, with a score of 85.4 out of 100, after the Institute of Customer Service (ICS) added new categories, including an ethical dimension to the poll of 10,000 consumers. The survey asks consumers to rate brands out of 100 based on categories, including the professionalism of staff, quality and efficiency of service, trust and transparency, customer experience and handling of complaints. Amazon’s fall to fifth place overall puts it just behind the high street fashion chain Next but ahead of Nationwide Building Society, Netflix and Argos. (Guardian)

Responsible Investment

Dutch regulator warns of €97 billion ‘water scarcity’ risk

Dutch regulator De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) has urged pension funds to map out social and ecological risks to their investments and minimise underlying problems. In a report published this week, DNB explored the potential financial risks posed by a number of ESG issues, including water and commodities scarcity, loss of biodiversity, and disputes about human rights. Based on a sample survey of 25 financial companies, including 10 pension funds, DNB concluded that most of them could improve integration of their sustainability goals into their operational management. Although all surveyed organisations had a sustainability policy, only four regularly analysed their portfolios for social and ecological risk, the regulator found. According to the regulator, Dutch pension funds, insurers and banks had combined investments of €97 billion in companies operating in areas with an “extreme high water scarcity”. “When this scarcity turns into a shortage, corporate facilities can only function limitedly at best,” it said, adding that local authorities could also tighten regulation for water usage. (IPE)


Analysis warns of lack of progress on 2020 global emissions target

Removing coal from the global energy mix is taking too long, too many forests are still being destroyed, and fossil fuel subsidies are ongoing despite their distorting effect on the market, according to a study by the World Resources Institute think tank. The study also reported that there has been insufficient progress in agriculture to stop harmful practices that increase emissions, and heavy industry is not doing enough to use energy more efficiently. Without progress on all these fronts, the world is unlikely to see global greenhouse gas emissions peak in 2020, which is likely to be necessary to stay within the 1.5°C or 2°C warming thresholds as identified in the recent IPCC report. But the analysis also found important steps forward, on renewable energy, curtailing greenhouse gas emissions from shipping, and public sector investment in reducing emissions. These suggest progress in other aspects of tackling climate change is also possible, with greater effort from the public and private sectors. (Guardian)

Campaigns & Activism

Activist group challenges Colorado mineral rights law

Activist group, Colorado Rising filed a lawsuit this week challenging a state law that allows oil and gas companies to drill a property owner’s minerals without consent of the owner. The move is the latest effort by environmental activists to tighten drilling regulations in the fifth largest oil producing state in the United States. The complaint, filed by Colorado Rising on behalf of mineral owners in a Denver suburb, challenges the state’s forced pooling rule that was intended to help efficiently develop mineral resources. Under the law, an operator seeking to develop minerals on contiguous tracts of land can apply through the state’s oil and gas regulator to access minerals on properties where owners may not want to lease their mineral rights. Across Colorado, oil and gas operators requested to pool some 30,000 non-consenting mineral owners last year. “Forced pooling is a perfect example of Colorado’s antiquated oil and gas laws that must be updated in accordance with modern technology,” Anne Lee Foster of Colorado Rising said in a statement. (Reuters)


Image source: Baker County Tourism – 46449 by Baker County Tourism on FlickrCC BY-ND 2.0