BHP says to quit global coal lobby group, stick with U.S. Chamber of Commerce

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Global miner BHP Billiton BHP.AXBLT.L said on Thursday it had made a final decision to leave the World Coal Association (WCA) over differences on climate change but would remain a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Australian mining company BHP's new corporate logo, released to Reuters from their Melbourne, Australia, headquarters May 15, 2017. BHP/Handout via REUTERS

BHP has largely quit mining coal for power plants, but is the world’s largest exporter of coal for steel-making. It said in December it had taken a preliminary decision to withdraw from the WCA, pending a full review.

The miner came under pressure from Australian green groups last year to leave any industry associations with policies that fail to match the company’s support of the 2015 Paris climate accord.

“In light of the material difference identified by the review and the narrow range of activities of benefit to BHP from membership, BHP has reached a final view that it will cease membership of the WCA,” BHP said in a statement.

The WCA said it was disappointed with BHP’s decision, especially given that BHP had been involved in developing the association’s position on energy and climate change.

“The WCA’s position has always been clear; we support a balanced approach that integrates climate and energy policy that works towards a low emission future,” said Benjamin Sporton, Chief Executive of the Word Coal Association.

“We believe a balanced approach should not exclude high efficiency, low emissions power generation and carbon capture and storage,” Sporton said.

BHP said that while it had identified material differences in its stance with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest U.S. business lobby, there were other benefits from the activities with the group.

“On the basis of these broader benefits, and in light of the Chamber’s willingness to engage further on climate and energy issues through an invitation extended to BHP to join its Energy and Environment Committee, BHP has determined to remain a member of the Chamber,” BHP said.

BHP said it would also continue to work with the Minerals Council of Australia in relation to its updated Energy and Climate Policy Position.

Reporting by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell