The California State Controller and New York City Comptroller’s offices refused to back down from their request that mining giant Rio Tinto divest from the Pebble Mine, even in the face of an aggressive response from Northern Dynasty Minerals – the company behind the controversial gold and copper mining project proposed at the headwaters of Bristol Bay, Alaska. Instead of backing away from their request last December that Rio Tinto divest its shares in Northern Dynasty, the offices recently released another letter to the company citing two additional reasons for Rio Tinto to abandon the project: first, EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment and, second, Northern Dynasty Minerals’ “confrontational” response to that assessment.
“As fiduciaries of pension funds that are substantial, long-term Rio Tinto shareholders, we believe the company’s interest in divesting its shareholding in Northern Dynasty takes on added urgency” after the release of EPA’s Watershed Assessment, the CA Controller and NYC Comptroller wrote.
EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment found that Pebble Mine would have “devastating” effects on the Bristol Bay ecosystem. Based on those findings, the CA Controller and NYC Comptroller – representing large public pension funds valued at almost $500 billion – emphasized that the “reputational risks that Rio Tinto faces as a result of its association with the Pebble Project may well exceed the equity value of its investment in that project.”
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