Justiça Ambiental and a coalition of Mozambican NGOs filed a complaint against BHP Billiton regarding its intention to operate its Mozal aluminum smelter under a bypass authorised by the Mozambican Ministry for Environmental Coordination. The bypass would allow the smelter to operate without exhaust filters for a period of 6 months. The company claims the bypass is necessary to upgrade the facility in order to comply with legally required standards.
However, the complainants are concerned with the environmental implications and serious impacts on human health the bypass would involve. The complainants made several unsuccessful attempts to resolve the issue directly with the company. With the OECD Guidelines complaint the complainants hope to open an avenue for mediation and discussing the issue with the company. The bypass was supposed to go into effect on 1 November 2010, but a local court case has put it on hold.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
- Version 2000 Chapter II
- Version 2000 Chapter II Paragraph II.2
- Version 2000 Chapter II Paragraph II.5
- Version 2000 Chapter III
- Version 2000 Chapter III Paragraph III.1
- Version 2000 Chapter III Paragraph III.2
- Version 2000 Chapter V
- Version 2000 Chapter V Paragraph V.1 Subparagraph V.1.A
- Version 2000 Chapter V Paragraph V.1 Subparagraph V.1.B
- Version 2000 Chapter V Paragraph V.2
The Australian and UK NCPs agreed that the UK NCP would take the lead in handling the complaint. In February 2011, the UK NCP accepted the complaint. However, after consultation with the parties, the NCP decided to suspend the specific instance to first allow for mediation by the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) of the World Banks International Financial Corporation (IFC). After several meetings and attempts to reach an agreement between the parties facilitated by the CAO, the case there was closed without an agreement.
As a result, the UK NCP re-initiated its own process in November 2011 and offered mediation to the parties. After JA! declined the offer for mediation the UK NCP announced it would proceed with making an examination of the allegations.
In September 2012, the UK NCP concluded the case with a final statement determining that BHP Billiton had not breached the 2000 version of the OECD Guidelines. However, the NCP encouraged both BHP Billiton and Mozal SARL to improve procedures for engagement with local communities and be more forthcoming in disclosing information related to the smelters impacts on the environment and the health and safety of adjacent communities.