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The New Zealand Superannuation Fund has excluded global mining company Barrick Gold Corporation and its subsidiary African Barrick Gold from its $22 billion investment portfolio on responsible investment grounds.

Barrick’s mines in Papua New Guinea and Tanzania have experienced a series of security-related, environmental and community problems over a lengthy time period.

The Fund’s Manager, Responsible Investment, Anne-Maree O’Connor, said the Fund viewed Barrick’s activities as inconsistent with the human rights and environmental standards contained in the UN Global Compact, the key benchmark against which the Fund measures corporate behaviour.

Ms O’Connor said while Barrick had made recent steps to improve its policies and practices, there was no practical remedy for the environmental impact of riverine tailings (the practice of disposing mining waste into rivers) and the Fund’s view was that progress on resolving community grievances and security issues had been slow.

Ms O’Connor said the Fund had decided not to engage with Barrick.

“In reaching our decision we took account of the security and environmental context in which the companies operate, and the length of time over which problems have occurred.”

“Given the circumstances, we believe engagement with Barrick would be unlikely to be successful, and until it is evident that significant improvements can be made on the ground we will be excluding both companies from our portfolio.”

“It is important that we focus the Fund’s efforts to influence company behaviour on situations where we believe a difference can be made.”

The use of riverine tailings breaches international norms, with the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation no longer financing projects that make use of riverine tailings disposal.

As at 31 December 2012, the Fund held shares worth NZ$1,826,470 in Barrick Gold Corporation and NZ$78,824 in African Barrick Gold in its global equity portfolio. The stocks have now been sold.

The Fund’s responsible investment standards and activities are set out in its responsible investment framework, available on www.nzsuperfund.co.nz.

ENDS

Media contact: Catherine Etheredge, Head of Communications, [email protected], +64 27 4777 501.

About the New Zealand Superannuation Fund
The New Zealand Superannuation Fund invests money, on behalf of the New Zealand Government, to partially pre-fund future universal superannuation payments. The Fund is a founding signatory of the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI). It is also a member of the Investor Group on Climate Change Australia/New Zealand, the International Corporate Governance Network and the Responsible Investment Association Australasia.

 

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