Fortescue investors invited to vote on Western Australia heritage law

Image courtesy of Fortescue Metals Group

Fortescue Metals Group shareholders will be invited to express support for a stronger Aboriginal say on Western Australia’s new heritage protection laws at a shareholder meeting in October, a resolution filed on Wednesday showed.

The state is reforming laws to protect the heritage of Aboriginal Australians after global miner Rio Tinto Ltd legally destroyed historically and culturally significant rock shelters for an iron ore mine in Western Australia last year.

However, Aboriginal groups have expressed opposition to the reforms, saying they have not been adequately consulted and they don’t meet international standards, given that the government will retain final decision-making authority on new developments.

The resolution, filed by activist investor the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), calls on Fortescue to back a pause in the bill’s development and for the state to enter talks with Aboriginal groups to come up with new rules together.

Fortescue is the world’s fourth-biggest iron ore miner and has extensive operations in Western Australia.

Other clauses to vote on include that the company publicly support free, prior and informed consent and control over heritage decision-making for Aboriginal groups, and that any trade associations it funds advocate the same view.

Fortescue said in a filing that it would include its board’s response and voting recommendations prior to its annual general meeting.

(By Melanie Burton; Editing by David Clarke)

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