BHP could quit World Coal Association, Minerals Council

BHP has released an industry association review that brings into question its membership of the World Coal Association (WCA) and Minerals Council of Australia (MCA), a group whose relations with the mining giant have been fraught in recent months. BHP has indicated it may leave the WCA by March 2018.

BHP has published a lengthy report detailing material differences between itself and the WCA with regards to energy policy. BHP objected to comments made by the WCA endorsing high-efficiency, low-emissions (HELE) coal power stations, citing it as a lapse in neutrality:

“We believe climate policy and energy policy are inextricably linked, and that energy reliability, energy affordability and emissions reduction should be considered on an integrated basis,” said the report.

“When discussing emissions reduction in the energy sector, the MCA has highlighted the costs associated with meeting Australia’s international commitments at the expense of addressing the importance of reducing emissions.”

WCA chairman Mick Buffier, also group executive of sustainable development and industry relations at Glencore, responded by saying that BHP’s report didn’t accurately reflect the views of the WCA.

The report also cited differences with the US Chamber of Commerce and MCA, but stated that BHP would continue membership with the MCA for at least another year.

A report released in October by think tank The Australia Institute found that the MCA mentioned coal more than any other ore in media, despite its relatively minor presence; coal was the subject of three times as many mentions in media by the MCA as iron ore. BHP, one of the MCA’s largest contributors, only has a minor foothold in the thermal coal industry, and 33 of the group’s 49 members have no involvement with coal at all.

BHP said it would also consider its future membership of the US Chamber of Commerce and make a final decision by the end of March 2018, due largely to the Trump government’s isolationist rejection of the Paris Agreement.

“We welcomed the Paris Agreement formalised in December 2015 at COP21,” explained the report. “We support efforts by government and industry to set targets for emissions reduction.”