196 (24.05.18)


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Letters

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Dusty Boardrooms

    On gender equality (How to Haul Mining Out of the 1970s), your sources propose limiting the number of directorships any executive can hold.
    Please let me know what backlash you get. There are a few codgers at the top who cling to the Victorian era. But the UK's corporate governance code does actually cover this. In the FTSE 100, executive directors are not supposed to take on more than one non-executive post in any other FTSE 100 company, nor a chairmanship. As Kate Burgess recently quipped in the Financial Times, “One Nedship may enrich the day job; two risks impoverishing it.”
    The guidelines though are non-binding (there is a “comply or explain” loophole) and the language is soft (“should not” rather than “forbidden”). It is also easy to stay within the guidelines without respecting the idea behind them. You can be a FTSE 100 executive, for instance, and hold time-consuming charity or government posts, or take multiple positions at firms outside the FTSE 100.
    Your article mentioned Sir John Parker, who chaired Anglo American, search firm Spencer Stuart, water group Pennon and an engineering company, on top of a directorship in government at the Cabinet Office in Whitehall. The man is a marvel. But it is perhaps not the best template. Edinburgh

Unscalable Metal Gait

    Paul Gait raises interesting points (Silicon Valley is a Derivative of the Mining Industry) and he writes better than I can, but tech companies do generate profits, whereas mining companies demand huge investment at all points of the cycle and have a habit of periodically destroying value, on a really epic scale. London

The Internet Runs Off Coal

    Your article on Rio's aluminium business says Apple's facilities are powered by green energy (Star-crossed: Rio Tinto & Alcoa). Apple do make that claim, but the figures are cooked-up. It buys power off the grid in North Carolina, Oregon and Arizona, where the local utilities all burn coal.
    The same is true at its newest data centre in Denmark, although Apple is greener than its competitors. Microsoft, Amazon and IBM are 27 to 31 per cent powered by coal, versus 5 per cent for Apple, but you do have to read the small print in their sustainability reports. London

Zip World

    Your piece on reinventing abandoned mines (From Night Clubs to Botanical Gardens) missed an example. An old slate mine in Wales has been turned into an underground trampolining centre. It is called Zip World Bounce Below. I haven't been. London

Cleaner than Cotton

    The idea of creating new certification standards to make metal traceable (Race for Traceable Metals) is either pie in the sky or a path we've happened upon. The technology has finally arrived to achieve better traceability but the industry has been too complacent.
    We don't have decades to waste if we are to build trust in society, such that shoppers have confidence that the metal they use every day comes from a happy place. But I'd quibble with your reference to cotton.
    Fast fashion is a reprehensible industry, exploitative and accident prone. Child labour and factory collapses are far from unheard of. The mining industry is already far cleaner. Zimbabwe

 

CONTENTS

Fracking for Copper:
BHP & Barrick Chase “Ultimate Prize”

Industry's key players looking at ways to replace mines with grids of wells, pumping metal out of the ground, up-ending mining's economics

Tom Butler: How to Stop Mining in World Heritage Sites

The industry's pulled together to obstruct mining in sites valuable for wildlife, writes ICMM's CEO Tom Butler

The Guggenheims, from Chile to the Congo

The Guggenheims' vast mining business, which controlled 75 per cent of the world's copper, holds valuable lessons for investors today

Briefing: Elliott's $1bn Vehicle Bids High

Triple Flag, the $1bn streaming group backed by hedge fund Elliott, has been generously bidding for deals