Freeport Shareholders Rejects Director Proposal

Freeport Shareholders Rejects Director Proposal

The Arizona Republic
by Andrew Johnson The Arizona Republic

A shareholder proposal requiring Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.'s board of directors to contain at least one member with experience in environmental matters failed Thursday at the mining company's annual meeting.

The proposal contends that persistent criticism of Freeport's methods for disposing mining byproducts at its Grasberg copper and gold mine in Indonesia have hurt shareholders.

The director requirement "would enable the company more effectively to address the environmental issues inherent in its business" and "ensure that the highest levels of attention are devoted to environmental standards at new developments," the proposal stated.

It was brought by New York City Pension Funds, General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church, Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP in the Netherlands and several Swedish national pension funds.

Freeport's board urged shareholders to vote against the proposal, arguing the requirement would hinder its ability to attract the most qualified directors.

About 66 percent of ballots tallied at Freeport's annual meeting in Wilmington, Del. opposed the measure, spokesman Eric Kinneberg said.

About 33 percent favored it and about 2 percent abstained. Some ballots were still being tallied as of Thursday morning, he said.

In an interview this week, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Kathleen Quirk said the Phoenix-based company regularly brings in independent environmental experts to review its operations.

"It's something that constantly gets scrutiny," she said. "When people step back from it and review all the data, review where we're located, the geographic setting that we're located in . . . they conclude that the methods that we use (are) best practices."