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Protesters pounce on mining giant's AGM -

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Protesters pounce on mining giant's AGM

Sue Lannin reported this story on Thursday, November 26, 2009 12:43:00

ELEANOR HALL: The mining giant BHP Billiton had its annual general meeting there disrupted this
morning by environmentalists who were protesting about the company's environmental record.

(Sound of people protesting)

But inside the meeting the chairman of BHP Billiton, Don Argus, didn't seem to comment too much
about the environmental issues, he was saying that governments have to start thinking about scaling
back their stimulus spending.

Mr Argus will step down early next year; he's chairing his last annual general meeting for BHP

He'll be replaced by Jacques Nasser, a former boss of US car giant Ford.

Our finance reporter Sue Lannin has been listening to the annual general meeting and she joins us

Sue we've just heard from the protestors outside the meeting; what were they complaining about?

SUE LANNIN: Well very much they're concerned as you said about the company's environmental record
around the world. So not just their environmental practices but also their social practices, how
they workers are treated in third world countries.

But their big concern is the Olympic Dam uranium mine in South Australia and Roxby Downs, that's
the town built to service the mine.

Now they say the company's activities runs counter to their corporate social responsibility
policies, and they held a mock press conference on behalf of BHP Billiton.

PROTESTER 1: Every year's a good year for BHP shareholders.

PROTESTER 2: Will you still be expanding the Olympic Dam uranium mine?

PROTESTER 1: To meet world demand, yes we will be. That's the plan.

PROTESTER 3: Mr Argus, Mr Argus. That will be millions of tonnes of radioactive waste laying near
the surface. Is that right?

PROTESTER 1: Ah, not, well, yeah it'll all be dealt with appropriately, don't you worry about that.

SUE LANNIN: Now that's Friends of the Earth protestors holding a mock press conference by BHP
Billiton at the company's annual general meeting in Brisbane. Now the BHP Billiton chairman Don
Argus didn't address the protesters' concerns but he did talk about climate change and the need to
reduce carbon emissions.

He also spoke about the need to properly manage nuclear waste on a global scale as the use of
nuclear energy grows in popularity. Now Don Argus and chief executive Marius Kloppers did apologise
through for the company's safety record.

Seven workers have died in 2009, five in Western Australia at the company's iron ore operations.
And Marius Kloppers said that the company wouldn't relent until they had eliminated these sort of

ELEANOR HALL: And Sue, Don Argus apparently also defended Marius Kloppers' pay?

SUE LANNIN: Yes, now Marius Kloppers was reported to have had a 51 per cent increase in pay in 2009
to $12 million. So that's even though the company's after tax profit fell dramatically because of
the global financial crisis.

So Don Argus said there was basically a misunderstanding about what Marius Kloppers earned.

ELEANOR HALL: That's often the case isn't it?

SUE LANNIN: That's right. He said that Marius Kloppers did not receive a 51 per cent increase in
pay; that Marius Kloppers' short-term bonuses actually decreased.

ELEANOR HALL: So where did the 50 per cent come from then?

SUE LANNIN: Well he gave a very, very complicated explanation and I have to admit, I couldn't quite
follow because it was so complicated.

ELEANOR HALL: Now Sue, tell us, what did Don Argus say about stimulus spending by governments?

SUE LANNIN: He said the economic stimulus spending measures that we saw all around the world, the
trillions of dollars, were needed and he said that that had been backed up by the International
Monetary Fund and its various statements.

He said, however, while there are calls to end the spending he thinks it's too soon, the global
economy still needs that input, but he did say that he thinks governments need to identify
strategies for reducing the stimulus eventually for returning to a more normal footing, and
especially to start paying back the huge budget deficits that have been building up.

ELEANOR HALL: So was he giving a specific message to the Australian Government there do you think?

SUE LANNIN: I think he was speaking more generally. I think he was speaking not specifically to the
Australian Government, I think he was speaking to governments around the world.

ELEANOR HALL: And is there a sense where, did he have a sense of where the Australian economy was
going in relation to the world economy? It sounded like he was perhaps a little bit more downbeat
about the world economy.

SUE LANNIN: Yes. Well certainly the issue with the world economy and resources is that there's a
whole lot of restocking that's been going on. China's been restocking, Marius Kloppers said that he
thought that had come to an end, and also the restocking, so the restocking of inventories like
iron ore, it's weak in Europe, it's weak in the United States.

So both Marius Kloppers and Don Argus were very cautious about a global recovery, but they saw
China as the key to growth in the long-term.

ELEANOR HALL: Sue Lannin, our finance reporter, thank you.