An important report will be launched today (Monday) at Westminster, which highlights the terrible impact of mining in the Philippines. It calls for a moratorium on new mining in the country, urges a review of existing mining projects and a withdrawal of international investment in mining until ‘proper procedures’ are in place to protect human rights and the environment. Church leaders will be in attendance to show their support.
However, two of the mining companies challenged by the report, Xstrata and BHP Billiton, are companies in which the Church of England has a combined shareholding of £80 million, according to the last annual report of the Church Commissioners. The Church of England has a £33.2 million shareholding in Xstrata group, of which Xstrata Copper is a part, and a £47.5 million shareholding in BHP Billiton. The report’s publication comes as the Church of England’s General Synod begins to meet, during which its investments will be discussed.
Jonathan Bartley, co-director of the religion and society thinktank Ekklesia said: “Members of the Church of England are quite rightly backing a very important report about the devastating effects of mining in the Philippines. But the Church’s investments in mining companies are part of the problem, not the solution.
“The report calls for a withdrawal of international investment in mining until proper procedures are in place to protect human rights and the environment. The Church of England should lead by example.
"Whilst it holds onto these shareholdings, the Church’s intent to challenge injustice and environmental degradation is compromised. It can not say one thing and do another. But this is also has a golden opportunity for the Church to put its money where its mouth is, sell its investments, and lead the campaign on behalf of the affected communities in the Philippines.”