Climate action “at the heart” of Rio Tinto strategy

Climate action

Rio Tinto’s annual general meeting (AGM) has seen the major miner put its climate action plan to its shareholders for an advisory vote, in response to investor sentiment.

This marked the first time the company had put such a plan to an advisory vote, allowing shareholders to give recommendations on how best to manage the climate action plan.

Rio Tinto chairman Simon Thompson opened the meeting by discussing the company’s recent and upcoming executive movements, before moving on to the main theme of the AGM.

“I am now going to focus on climate change, which is the defining issue for our age, and is at the heart of our new strategy,” he said.

“Rio Tinto has a critical role to play in the energy transition, supplying essential materials, including copper, lithium, high-grade iron ore and aluminium, all of which are vital for the transition to a low carbon economy.

“Our new strategy sets out plans to grow production in each of these metals.”

Rio Tinto chief executive officer Jakob Stausholm discussed the changing nature of the company and indeed the mining industry, addressing issues of diversity, the crisis in Ukraine and environmental, social and governance (ESG) credentials.

“We have a lot of work to do – but I believe we are on the right path,” he said.

The AGM came on the same day the company announced it would take full ownership of Queensland Alumina and the Gladstone alumina refinery, removing Russian business UC Rusal from the company’s stakeholders.

Stausholm said this was just one of numerous measures to support the people of Ukraine.

“We have no operational assets or employees located in Russia or Ukraine; however, we are taking action in a few areas. Firstly, we are in the process of terminating all commercial relationships we have with Russian businesses,” he said.

“And to support humanitarian efforts, we will donate US$5 million to agencies helping people caught up in the conflict or fleeing from it. We have also put in place a scheme to match donations made by our people globally.”

In climate action, the company has previously outlined its intention to reduce its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 15 per cent by 2025, with that number increasing to 50 per cent by 2030.

Rio Tinto intends to invest more than $10 billion to reach these targets, as Stausholm recognised there was hardly any other option.

“Society is demanding a greater commitment on climate change,” he said.

“We provide materials to help the world progress. We have a responsibility to produce these materials in the right way.”

Votes and recommendations on the climate action plan will be made on May 5.

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