Norway sovereign fund advisor may recommend Rio Tinto stake sale

Deforestation in the Maranhão state of Brazil, 2016. (Image courtesy of Felipe Werneck | Ibama.)

The ethics adviser to Norway’s $1.6 trillion sovereign-wealth fund is assessing whether to recommend the investor to divest its multi-billion dollar stake in mining giant Rio Tinto for environmental concerns, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The council on ethics has told Rio Tinto in recent months that it is assessing the company for environmental damage from its operations in the Brazilian Amazon, the report said, citing a letter seen by WSJ.

The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, which owns 1.5% of the global listed shares across 8,800 companies looks into investments made by Norges Bank Investment Management, the operator of the fund.

Norges is one of Rio’s largest stakeholders and as at Dec. 31 owned a 2.24% stake worth $2.7 billion in the global miner.

London-listed shares of Rio fell 0.8% to 5,078 pence.

The council’s concerns around Rio have generally been focussed on deforestation and the miner’s partial ownership of an operation in Northern Brazil called Mineração Rio do Norte, or MRN, in which Rio owns 22%, the report added.

“While the MRN operation is not managed by Rio Tinto, it has been working to progressively improve its environmental and social performance to meet industry best practice and our expectations as a shareholder,” a spokesperson for the world’s largest iron ore miner told Reuters.

(By Ayushman Ojha and Rishav Chatterjee; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)


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