CA, NY Managers of Giant Pension Funds Ask Rio Tinto to Divest from Pebble Mine

The California State Controller and New York City Comptroller’s offices have sent a letter to Rio Tinto asking it to fully divest its interest in the Pebble Mine – a giant gold and copper mine proposed at the headwaters of Bristol Bay, Alaska. 

Representing “significant long-term shareowners” in Rio Tinto, the CA Controller and NYC Comptroller said that investment in the Pebble Project presents “undue risk” not only to the long-term sustainability of the Bristol Bay region, but also to the long-term value of its investments in Rio Tinto. The offices cited environmental, regulatory, operational, legal, and reputational risks.  Rio Tinto owns approximately 19% of Northern Dynasty Minerals’ share in the Pebble Mine.

Notably, the CA Controller is a trustee of two large public pension plans with assets totaling $430 billion.  The NYC Comptroller is the investment adviser to, and a trustee of, the five New York City pension funds, which have combined assets totaling $139 billion.

The message could not be clearer:  Pebble Mine is a bad investment.  So bad that Rio Tinto is being asked to divest its interest in the Pebble Mine by offices that manage over half a trillion dollars in public investment. 

Rio Tinto has a unique opportunity to demonstrate its environmental and financial leadership. Now is the time.