Tuesday 24th Oct, 2017

Joyce blames BHP for Pearson’s Minerals Council departure

Australian miners think Chinese coal testing is unfair. Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Australian Minerals Council chief executive Brendan Pearson has stepped down, in a move federal resources minister Barnaby Joyce has blamed on BHP, for reconsidering its role at the peak body over policy differences.

BHP said last week it would review its position with, and contributions to, the Minerals Council of Australia, after attention was drawn to the fact the miner is committed to support a transition to clean energy, but the lobby group backs the future of coal production.

Despite the fact BHP is one of the world’s largest coal producers, the miner has said it will not fund political activism supporting coal.

But the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility earlier this month pointed out the Minerals Council “counts as one of its principal recent achievements the repeal of the carbon tax”.

The ACCR also drew attention to BHP’s membership with the Australian Petroleum Producers and Explorers Association, the NSW Minerals Council, and the Australian Industry Greenhouse Network.

Pearson announced he would step down as chief executive of the Minerals Council on September 22.

“Consistent with the MCA tradition, our policy advocacy has been vigorous but constructive and evidence-based,” Pearson said.

“The industry has been prepared to tell its story and articulate its case and it is important that this continue. Particular challenges to the coal, iron ore and gold sectors have been (and continue to be) met resolutely, while amalgamations with uranium and coal sector bodies have been productive.

“The mining and carbon taxes have been repealed, there is bipartisan support for the Fuel Tax Credits scheme and I am confident there will be much-needed reform of the GST distribution system over the next 12 months.”

Joyce reportedly vented his frustration over the developments to the AFR this week.

“Brendan was both fearless and a realist,” the minister was quoted as saying. “He had to contend with an incredibly well-organised and highly funded green campaign which I believe is fundamentally at odds with the economic prosperity of Australia.”