Sustainability group questions Liberty Mutual over Australian coal mine plan


MELBOURNE – UNPRI, a United Nations-backed network that promotes sustainable investing, is reviewing Liberty Mutual’s status as a signatory after receiving a complaint that the US insurer is supporting a coal project in Australia that has attracted the fire from community groups concerned about climate change and pollution.

The Save the Dawson action group lodged a formal complaint, asking the UNPRI board to engage with Liberty Mutual to ensure it withdraws a request to develop the Baralaba coal mine South, 500 kilometers northwest of Brisbane in the state of Queensland, by the end of the month, Paul Dit Stephenson.

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UNPRI chief executive Fiona Reynolds told Reuters on Thursday that Liberty Mutual’s expulsion from the group was a possible conclusion once its review was completed. The insurer officially adhered to the UNPRI principles last December.

“This complaint (from the community group) will now be dealt with and will go through our internal process,” said Reynolds. “Ultimately, a complaint is directed to the PRI Board of Directors and may result in the removal of a signatory.”

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Liberty Mutual was not immediately available for comment. A spokesperson told local media in January that the company recognizes the risk of climate change to the planet and is taking action to reduce carbon emissions for the project that would create hundreds of jobs in a rural area.

The Baralaba Sud project is expected to produce 5 million tonnes per year of a type of coal that is mainly used in steelmaking, but can also be used for electricity.

Liberty Mutual has faced a backlash from community groups, indigenous traditional owners and farmers who oppose the development of the mine which they believe will exacerbate climate change and risk polluting local waterways leading to at the Great Barrier Reef.

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(Reporting by Melanie Burton; editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa and Kenneth Maxwell)

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Mining in Australia

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