Church snubs mining company over ethical concerns

| February 8, 2010 | 0 Comments
Church snubs mining company over ethical concerns

The finance arm of the Church of England has said it will withdraw its £2.5 million investment from Vedanta, an India-based mining project, over concerns about human rights abuses by the company.

In a statement released Friday, the church said Vedanta has not done enough to improve its respect for human rights.

Campaigners who believe the church should invest ethically have long pointed out that the lives of indigenous people are threatened by the mining project.

The Church of England (CofE) said its attempts to engage with Vedanta over alleged human rights abuses were rebuffed.

“After six months of engagement, we are not satisfied that Vedanta has shown, or is likely in future to show, the level of respect for human rights and local communities that we expect of companies in whom the Church investing bodies hold shares,” said John Reynolds, spokesperson for the CofE’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG).

“Our concern is that a company registered and listed in the UK should conform to the established environmental, social and governance norms expected in the London market - or at least reassure its shareholders that it is committed to the journey.”

Campaign groups have welcomed the church’s decision.

Jonathan Bartley of Christian thinktank Ekklesia said: “This is welcome news that after several years of campaigning, the Church of England has finally realised that the activities of Vedanta are incompatible with its ethical stance on a number of issues.”

However, he added: “Questions must now be asked about the other mining companies in which the Church also has substantial shareholdings.

“At a time when the Church is seeking to ‘green’ its churches and campaign against climate change, not to mention human rights abuses, there is a clear conflict if it is seeking to make money from companies involved in environmental destruction and the abuse of vulnerable people.”

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