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February 04, 2011
Investors Call for Improved Disclosure of Mine Safety
    by Robert Kropp

In response to proposed rules by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Social Investment Forum argues that corporate disclosure of comparable mine health and safety data is necessary for investors.

Arguing that the rulemaking process of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) "offers a unique opportunity to make mine health and safety data consistent and easily accessible to all investors," the Social Investment Forum (SIF) has published a comment letter sent to the commission following the proposal of rules governing mine safety disclosure.

The Commission proposed amendments to its rules in order to implement a directive included in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. While mining companies are already required to include mine safety and health information in their annual and quarterly reports, the proposed new rules would require "additional disclosure designed to provide context to such information," according to the Commission.

The proposed new rules would also require mining companies to file a Form 8-K within four business days after receiving written notice from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) of imminent danger or patterns of violations.

In its letter to the SEC, SIF pointed out that "mine safety disclosures are material to investors, and investors will use this information as the basis for investment decisions," using the sustainability investment criteria of Calvert Asset Management as an example of such investment decision-making.

"Calvert's integration of sustainability and traditional equity analysis in select internally managed portfolios has intensified its need for information to assess the material workplace safety risks that are prevalent across sectors, but especially in the mining industry," the comment letter stated.

The letter also emphasized the necessity for comparable data, and cited the voluntary disclosure of global health and safety data by Newmont Mining as an example. By using the standard reporting format of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the company "discloses consistent, comparable and auditable data to investors," the letter stated.

In the letter, SIF also renewed its call for adequate funding of the SEC, and urged "that it immediately investigate staffing an office on sustainability issues" when such funding is accomplished.

The Commission recently extended the time period in which comments may be submitted to March 2, 2011.


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