Danish pension fund P+ announced it is divesting its shares in 12 foreign companies due to persistent violations of international guidelines on climate, the environment and human and labour rights, saying it is “hopeless” to try to engage with these firms.

The DKK125bn (€17bn) pension fund, which covers professions such as lawyers, economists and engineers, said the global mining companies Freeport-McMoran and Barrick Gold accounted for most of the sell-off, which includes mining, chemical and energy firms.

Kirstine Lund Christiansen, head of responsible investments at P+, said: “The extent of the companies’ negative impact on, among other things, climate, environment, human and labour rights is large and persistent, so we judge it hopeless to try to influence the companies through active ownership.”

For this reason, the 12 companies had now been put on the pension fund’s exclusion list, and would be sold as soon as possible, she said.

Other companies on the list are ElSewdy Electric, Evergreen Marine Taiwan, Formosa Chemicals & Fiber, Genting Bhd., Grupo Mexico, JBS, MMC Norilsk Nickel, Page Industries, POSCO and ZTE.

A spokeswoman for the Copenhagen-based pension fund, which describes itself as the pension fund for people with higher academic qualifications, declined to say how much the assets to be sold were worth.

Lund Christiansen said both Freeport-McMoran and Barrick Gold undertook Riverine Tailings Disposal (RTD) – dumping mine waste into rivers – a practice banned in most developed countries, she said, as it contaminated rivers, irreversibly damaged peoples’ health, agriculture and wildlife in the local area.

The two firms would not commit to changing their emission methods in the future, she said, despite incurring fines and causing irreparable damage to the environment, adding: “We therefore consider that the companies’ negative impacts are systematic and significant, and both companies thus fully meet our criteria for exclusion.”

In December, P+ announced it would sell off 40 coal stocks by the end of the year – with global mining giants BHP and Vale among the firms blacklisted – freeing up around DKK250m for reinvestment elsewhere.

A month earlier, P+ had said it was lowering its threshold for the exclusion of companies failing to meet its expectations, as part of a series of changes to its sustainable investment approach, also committing to the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 for its investment portfolio.

Looking for IPE’s latest magazine? Read the digital edition here.