Fortescue Metals Group said on Tuesday it will not consider a shareholder resolution at its annual general meeting that called on the iron-ore miner to halt activities that could damage Aboriginal cultural heritage sites.
The move comes on the heels of growing scrutiny on resource projects in Western Australia and other parts of the country that could affect places of cultural significance, after global miner Rio Tinto legally blew up a rock shelter in May that showed 46 000 years of human habitation.
The world’s fourth-biggest iron ore miner said it respects the right of shareholders to demand resolutions, but will not consider them at the annual shareholder meeting to be held on November 11 as the notice was received after the cut-off date.
A shareholder group backed by Aboriginal leaders appealed to Fortescue last week to commit not to damage or disturb cultural heritage sites and lift any confidentiality provisions for traditional owners.
Fortescue received the documents electronically ahead of the deadline, but the physical shipment was delayed for pandemic-related reasons beyond the courier's control, said Brynn O'Brien, executive director of the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, which filed the resolution.
Its decision not to accept the resolution that would have allowed greater shareholder scrutiny around its relationships with traditional owners was "out of step with community and investor expectations," she said in a statement.
The company has said it will review mining plans at its Solomon iron ore mine expansion in Western Australia after an Indigenous group raised concerns about the threat to sacred sites, including a 60 000-year old rock shelter.