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BHP reviewing 4 industry association memberships over climate, energy policies

BHP Group will review its memberships in four industry associations that go against the mining giant's policies on climate change and energy, although it is not yet ready to withdraw as some shareholders had wished.

In November, a majority of BHP shareholders rejected a resolution that would allow the suspension of its membership in industry groups, as urged by the board. BHP's incoming CEO, Mike Henry, has vowed to continue the group's initiatives on emissions reduction and climate change pushed by his predecessor, Andrew Mackenzie.

BHP will evaluate its membership in the New South Wales Minerals Council by April 30, 2020, and in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Mining Association of Canada and the American Petroleum Institute by Aug. 31, 2020.

The four groups had a combined six significant differences from BHP's pledge to cut emissions and support the Paris Agreement on climate change, which aims to limit global temperature rise in the 21st century.

The company made the decision after publishing a comprehensive review of its industry group memberships that covered 30 organizations from the start of 2018 to Nov. 15, 2019.

BHP will remain a member of Coal21, which it said is primarily a research organization rather than an industry association, and the Minerals Council of Australia after the groups made changes to their policies that align with the company's climate goals. It added that the changes in the two organizations' stances "would not have been possible had BHP exited," while noting that "some of Coal21's broader communications activities have not been consistent with its core objectives."

The company said that in the meantime, it will retain all of its memberships, reiterating an earlier stance that "there may also be circumstances in which our membership of industry associations can deliver improved positions from within the association even where differences [with the company's climate policies] have been identified."

To enhance its governance procedures for industry group memberships, BHP said it will ask each association to publish a formal climate and energy policy statement in 2020 and will request an annual report to assure adherence.

The company said it will also strengthen oversight and engagement by its affiliates with the industry groups.