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Vedanta Faces Protests over India Mine Project
Jul 29,2010 10:21CST
industry news

LONDON, July 29 -- India-focused Vedanta Resources (VED.L: Quote) will face protests at its shareholders' meeting on Wednesday from investors and pressure groups over its plans to build a bauxite mine in an area sacred to indigenous people.

Pressure groups have long opposed a planned mine in India's eastern Orissa state, but the sympathetic move by major asset manager Aviva Investors (part of insurer Aviva Plc (AV.L: Quote)) marks a more activist stance by institutional investors on social issues.

Aviva said it had organised a meeting on Friday of investors which in total hold around 5 percent of Vedanta shares with human rights group Amnesty International.

"A significant number of institutional investors who were present also expressed concern with the company," a spokeswoman added in an e-mail.

To show its concern over the Bauxite mining project and other issues with the company, Aviva said it plans to vote against three resolutions at Vedanta's meeting on Wednesday, regarding the annual report and accounts, the remuneration report and the reappointment of the board member who chairs the health, safety and environment committee.

Vedanta shareholders will also confront more colourful protests as they enter the meeting, including two people made up as indigenous people from the hit film Avatar, which chronicles how a futuristic mining company threatens the existence of the Na'vi people.

On June 30, India's Environment Ministry ordered a new panel to investigate whether Vedanta's planned mine could impact local tribes and wildlife.

A report on Vedanta submitted to the environment ministry in March said company was violating environmental guidelines and had not taken adequate consideration of the impact on the Dongria Kondh people.

Vedanta says the mine in the Niyamgiri mountain forests, beneath which lie 78 million tonnes of bauxite, will not violate the rights of local tribes and the company is also funding schools, clinics and income-generation projects in the area.



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