The Australian National University has increased its investment in a coal seam gas company, after shedding shares in a separate company due to environmental concerns over its mining operations.
Documents obtained by a student under Freedom of Information laws showed that the university sold its shares in coal seam gas company Metgasco following “concerns from various parties regarding perceived environmental impacts of Coal Seam Gas mining”.
By October 31, the university had sold 277,883 shares in the company worth more than $1 million.
However later documents outlined investments in Santos Ltd, a company which describes itself as a “coal seam gas industry leader”, jumping from 90,000 shares as of October 31 to 190,000 by the end of December.
The 100,000 shares were valued at $1,110,000 as of December 31. The combined portfolio of 190,000 shares is now worth $2,449,100.
ANU student Tom Swann, who obtained the documents after being initially denied access in January, said the environment and the university’s reputation could be damaged by the investments.
“We expected resistance to cleaning up ANU’s portfolio, but this is really something else,” he said.
“While appearing to take some step forward, they were actually taking two steps back – and there is much more coal, oil and gas on ANU’s books that they’re clearly not proud of.”
A spokeswoman for ANU said the university maintains a broad investment portfolio that seeks to support the long term viability of its research and education.
"The University does not comment on individual investments and will be making no further comment on this matter," she said.