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Norwegian richest fund purges Australian coal investments

Norwegian richest fund purges Australian coal investments

OSLO: World’s richest sovereign wealth fund has rid itself of investments in Australian coal companies, highlighting the environmental impact of the production of the commodity.

Norges Bank, manager of the $US850 billion Norwegian Government Pension Fund, has outlined the divestment of its interests in 14 coal miners around the world in 2014.

Five Australian companies among them included Whitehaven Coal, owner of the Maules Creek project, which has been under constant scrutiny from green groups.

The bank said when choosing to withdraw its investment in coal miners it paid particular attention to how heavily companies were exposed to the energy markets. Norges added that mining companies focused on metallurgical coal that could be used in the production of steel were retained in its portfolio.

In 2013, Norges had a $US21 million investment in Whitehaven (WHC), with a 1.2 per cent interest in the company.

In divesting from dozens of coal companies, the world’s largest coal investor has sent a clear message that Australia’s continued pursuit of new coal expansion is sheer folly,” Australia campaigns director, Charlie Wood, said.

In addition to divesting itself of holdings in five Australian companies, 13 Indian companies were also dropped, including Indian mining giant Adani Power, which is pushing ahead with the Carmichael coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

Despite withdrawing from some coal companies, the fund, founded on Norway’s oil and gas wealth, increased its interests in oil and gas companies.

Australia’s Beach Energy added Norges Bank to its lists of shareholders last week, with the fund taking a 5 per cent interest in the stock.