LONDON – Norway’s $1-trillion wealth fund has removed Rio Tinto from its investing blacklist after the world’s second-biggest miner sold out of the controversial Grasberg mine in Indonesia.
Norway has refused to buy Rio Tinto stock for more than a decade because of the environmental damage caused by one of the world’s biggest copper and gold projects. Today, after a recommendation from its Council on Ethics, the fund said it had revoked that exclusion.
Rio agreed to sell its stake in Grasberg last year for $3.5-billion. The mine, operated by US company Freeport-McMoRan, is highly contentious. Every year it dumps tens of millions of tons of mining waste into an Indonesian river system and will continue to do so for years to come.
The announcement will be welcomed by Rio as the Anglo-Australian miner seeks to burnish its environmental credentials. After offloading its last coal mine in 2018, the company has sought to distinguish itself from rivals that still have fossil-fuel exposure.
Norway’s wealth fund is at the forefront of efforts to divert money away from companies with environmentally damaging practices. Earlier this year it agreed to ban investing in companies that mine more than 20-million tons of thermal coal, the most polluting fuel, a year. Miners including Glencore and Anglo American are set to fall foul of this rule.