Activism at shareholder’s meetings of mining company Vale: Indonesia and Brazil

Four men hold placards reading “Save the forest and livelihoods of the people of Loeha Raya” Members of the communities of Loeha Raya, East Luwu, South Sulawesi traveled to Jakarta to ask the shareholders of Vale mining company to stop the expansion of nickel mining. (© WALHI Sulsel) Aerial view of PT Vale Indonesia nickel mine Forest destruction for nickel mining in South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Nickel mining is expansive and covers a lot of territory. (© WALHI Sulsel) Socio-environmental catastrophe caused by the failure of the tailings dam of the Vale mining company in Brumadinho (Minas Gerais, Brazil) The failure of Vale’s tailings dam in Brumadinho, Brazil (© Vinícius Mendonça/Ibama/CC BY-SA 2.0)

May 16, 2024

Brazil’s Vale is one of the world's mining giants, producing metals such as iron in Brazil and nickel in Indonesia on an industrial scale. It is positioning itself as a world leader in global supply chains for metals needed for the energy transition, particularly nickel.

If this were a business website, this would probably be nothing unusual for our readers up to this point. But as an environmental and human rights organization, the plans of the company, known above all for their crimes in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais – in Brumadinho in 2019 and in Mariana in 2015, where 273 and 19 people lost their lives, respectively – set our alarm bells ringing.

The 2024 Annual and Extraordinary Shareholder's Meetings of the Brazilian mining company Vale SA was held online. Once again, the International Articulation of People Affected by Vale (AIAAV) participated, this time for the fourteenth year. As its name suggests, this network brings together different communities affected by the operations of the mining company Vale and takes the opportunity to participate in the company's annual meeting to present criticisms and highlight inconsistencies found in the company's annual reports to the shareholders. During their interventions, secured by the purchase of one share per participant, the critical shareholders expose, one by one, the human rights violations committed in the extraction, processing and transportation of iron ore.

In its annual reports, Vale distorts data and omits strategic information to give its investors the impression that its accounts are healthy, that the company is trustworthy, and that being a shareholder is therefore a good idea”, says the AIAAV in Brazil.

The 2024 Extraordinary General Shareholders' Meeting of the company’s Asian arm, PT Vale Indonesia, was held in Jakarta. Vale extracts nickel on the island of Sulawesi. Nickel mining is expanding rapidly to meet demand driven by its use in the manufacture of electric vehicles. Business with the metal is booming.

Several pepper farmers from the villages of Loeha and Ranteangin (Towuti district, East Luwu, South Sulawesi province) traveled to the PT Vale Indonesia meeting and held up protest placards outside the venue. They demanded that the mining company stop its plans to expand its mining operations and exclude the so-called Tanamalia block. This mining block is located right in their villages and forest, which is part of the ecosystem around Lake Towuti. The communities are aware that mining will affect clean water sources and local organic pepper production, the main livelihood of five villages.

"We came from South Sulawesi to present the demands of the farmers of Loeha Raya directly to the shareholders of PT Vale," explained Ali Kamri on behalf of the community organizations. "We have been calling for a stop since 2022, when we first learned about the plans to expand nickel mining in our territories."

Several PT Vale Indonesia shareholders observed the action and indicated their support and encouragement to Ali Kamri and the farmers, who came to the meeting with representatives from WALHI, Indonesia’s largest and oldest environmental NGO.

For many human rights organizations, shareholder meetings are an important opportunity to state their case, as it is virtually impossible during the rest of the year to directly confront Vale on its human rights abuses.

AIAAV submitted five different reasoned votes, each with compelling reasons to reject Vale’s management report and financial statements for the fiscal year 2023.

Here is a summary of some of the arguments of the different votes presented by AIAAV on Vale's activities in Indonesia and Brazil.

During the Vale meetings in Brazil and Indonesia, many questions were raised, but very few valid answers were given. In conclusion, for those who care about human rights and the environment, becoming a shareholder in the Vale mining company is the worst business decision we can imagine.

  1. PT Vale IndonesiaCurrently, the Brazilian company Vale SA is the largest shareholder of PT Vale Indonesia Tbk, with 43% of the shares.

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