They have stepped up communication with mining companies both in volume and frequency, putting them on notice to improve accountability and risk management, according to Reuters interviews with two dozen major investors and corporate governance advisers.
Such engagement is nothing to be sneezed at, they add.
“(For) many of the most influential investors, a quiet conversation with the chair to make their expectations clear is enough. More transactional approaches are often unnecessary,” said Susheela Peres da Costa, head of advisory at Regnan, an adviser on environment, social and governance (ESG) issues.
Regnan is part of the Pendal Group which has some A$94.8 billion(52.2 billion pounds)under management.
However, failure by miners to adequately address concerns could at some point lead to more direct shareholder actions, as has been seen with other ESG issues such as climate change and the use of coal, advisers said.
Those actions would generally come in three forms: efforts to influence the makeup of company boards, resolutions put forward at annual general meetings on cultural heritage issues and walking away from a firm by divesting.
“I think we will see that investors are going to be much more proactive in how they vote on directors and how they influence the shape of the boards,” said Simon O’Connor, chief executive of the Responsible Investment Association Australasia, whose members manage more than A$9 trillion.
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