Coal Giants Left Unscathed by Growing Divestment Campaign – by Thomas Biesheuvel and Jesse Riseborough (Bloomberg News – June 3, 2015)

The biggest names in mining have so far found themselves immune to a rapidly expanding campaign that’s seeking to curb the use of the most polluting fossil fuel.

From Norway’s $900 billion sovereign wealth fund to France’s biggest insurer and the Church of England, investors are starting to turn the screw on coal producers by selling down their holdings.

The criteria they use to select candidates for divestment exempts some of the biggest producers, however. That’s because those companies are large, diversified miners and only get a small part of their revenue from coal.

Dodging the divestment bullet, at least for now, are companies such as Glencore Plc, the world’s biggest exporter of coal used in power stations, BHP Billiton Ltd., Rio Tinto Group and Anglo American Plc. Between them they mine more than 350 million tons, about one third of the world’s coal trade.

“There’s a view that if they stop investing in it, or take a stance, that coal will go away,” said Mick Buffier, chairman of the World Coal Association and also an executive at Glencore. “Our view is different. Coal will continue to be needed. It’s going to be used by these developing nations. ”

Norwegian lawmakers last week agreed to ban the country’s fund from investing in companies that make 30 percent of their sales from coal, while Axa SA said it will divest mining companies that get more than 50 percent of their revenue from coal.

The Church of England has vowed not to invest in any business that gets more than 10 percent of its revenue from the carbonized plant matter.

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