Why Rio Tinto Shares Are Falling Today

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Rio Tinto Plc (NYSE:RIO) shares are trading lower on Wednesday.

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund’s ethics adviser is evaluating the possibility of suggesting a sell-off of its substantial investment in Rio Tinto, citing environmental apprehensions, The Wall Street Journal reported.

In recent months, the Council on Ethics, acting as the adviser, has informed Rio Tinto of its scrutiny regarding potential environmental harm stemming from the mining company’s activities in the Brazilian Amazon, the report read, citing a letter viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The council’s apprehensions regarding Rio Tinto have centered on deforestation, particularly its stake in Mineração Rio do Norte (MRN) in northern Brazil, the report stated. 

MRN claims to be Brazil’s largest bauxite producer, supplying around 12 million tons annually for aluminum production, as per the report.

Rio Tinto holds 22% ownership in MRN, alongside Glencore Plc (OTC:GLNCY) (45%) and Australian miner South32 Ltd (OTC:SHTLF) (33%).

In January, the council requested Rio Tinto’s feedback on its preliminary proposal to bar the company from Norway’s $1.6 trillion fund. Subsequently, Rio Tinto and the council have engaged in talks, but a definitive verdict is pending, the report noted, citing sources familiar with the matter.

As an independent entity, the council holds significance for the world’s largest sovereign-wealth fund, examining investments made by Norges Bank Investment Management to ensure adherence to rigorous ethical standards. Subsequently, it may advise on excluding companies from the fund or listing them for observation.

Since 2015, Norges has adhered to every environmental recommendation, maintaining an average 1.5% stake in global listed companies.

For Rio Tinto, the world’s second-largest miner by market value, exclusion from the fund would be detrimental, the report read.

As of December 31, Norges held a substantial 2.24% stake valued at approximately $2.7 billion, making it one of the company’s top shareholders, The Wall Street Journal added.

Price Action: RIO shares are trading lower by 1.21% to $64.30 on Wednesday.

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