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Just Share unhappy that its question was not addressed at AMSA’s AGM

AMSA CEO Kobus Verster

AMSA CEO Kobus Verster

Photo by Creamer Media's Donna Slater

27th May 2024

By: Darren Parker

Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

     

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Nonprofit activist organisation Just Share has accused ArcelorMittal South Africa (AMSA) of sub-par AGM governance because the chairperson closed the company’s AGM on May 24 before addressing a question posed by the nonprofit.

“This is surprising given the high levels of civil society engagement at its AGMs in recent years,” Just Share said on May 27, while noting that this was the first AMSA AGM it had attended.

The nonprofit said the reason given for not addressing the question during the AGM was that time had run out.

“This is unacceptable. Just Share attends many AGMs, some of which continue for hours while boards ensure all shareholders’ questions are addressed,” the activist organisation said.

An AMSA spokesperson assured Engineering News that, as had been the case at previous AMSA AGMs, all questions and answers, including those which were not addressed during the AGM itself owing to time constraints, would be posted on the company’s website within the next few days. In addition, AMSA assured that its responses would be sent directly to those who asked questions.

Just Share pointed out that AMSA’s decarbonisation roadmap, published in January last year, pursued two high-level strategies for the decarbonisation of its operations in the medium to long term. One of these was to use carbon capture and use (CCU) and low-carbon blast furnaces and the other was to pursue the green hydrogen opportunity at Saldanha.

However, Just Share claimed that, despite decades of experimentation and significant expenditure, none of the many CCU pilot projects anywhere in the world had been successful in the development of commercially viable CCU, at scale.

“Commercial CCU projects running today capture approximately 0.1% of fossil fuel emissions globally. As much as CCU is generally failing to provide any results, it is even more unlikely to materialise as a viable option for steel production, given the many stages of the process that will require carbon capture,” Just Share said.

Since AMSA reports its commitment to transparency and frequent communication around its CCU projects, Just Share asked the company at the AGM to provide more detail and a clear distinction between the capital expenditure devoted to green hydrogen versus the more experimental technologies, including on research and development.

“The chairperson closed the meeting without responding to this question. Just Share will follow up with management to get a response to this question,” the nonprofit said.

Just Share further criticised AMSA for forcing non-shareholders to request permission to attend the AGM by contacting the company secretary in advance, rather than providing carte blanche access to all guests.

“Given the material public interest in the operations and environmental and social impacts of JSE-listed companies, and the increasing practice of allowing stakeholders other than shareholders to attend AGMs, companies should make their AGMs easily accessible to all those who wish to attend.

“This approach to stakeholder engagement is encouraged in the King Report on Corporate Governance (King IV) and demonstrates an awareness of the importance of transparency and accountability,” Just Share said.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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