Our values, experience and history tell us that we must work in a way that delivers real, lasting benefits for the owners of our company as well as the wider communities in which we operate.
We must care for our employees, respect and care for the environment while we operate, and rehabilitate the land when we cease. We must contribute our fair share to local and national economies, including through taxes, and do so transparently. These beliefs are the foundation of our views on sustainability.
We produce materials essential to human progress: aluminium for our cars and smartphones; anti-microbial copper for hospitals; borates that help crops grow; responsible diamonds that celebrate enduring love. We believe we can be part of the world's sustainability solution.
As the expectations of society increase in the 21st century, we know we must do better to explain our contribution and purpose beyond delivering shareholder value. This is one reason why, in 2018, we refreshed our sustainability strategy, developing an integrated approach linked to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. This approach ensures that material sustainability issues are integrated into our business strategy.
As a result, we produced a number of firsts in 2018 – our first climate change strategy in many years and, in parallel, our first report in line with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). In addition, we produced our first transparency and civil society statements, and our first global parental leave policy.
We discussed our approach and initiatives with investors and civil society groups in the latter half of the year; the response has been largely positive, with some good ideas for improvement shared as well. We look forward to working together with our many partners in the coming months and years to deliver our goals.
At the heart of our sustainability strategy – and our business – are our people and their safety. This year, we remember Francis Lalancette, Muzi Patrick Nhlenyama and Daniel Patterson – our colleagues who went to work last year but did not return home. Like all of us at Rio Tinto, I am deeply saddened by their tragic deaths and the irreplaceable loss this has caused their families, friends and colleagues. We must do better on safety. Aside from this, 2018 was a year of milestones on the sustainability front, and we can look back with pride at our significant achievements.
In May, we launched a partnership to develop greenhouse-gas-free aluminium smelting: our Elysis joint venture with Alcoa, supported by Apple and the governments of Canada and Quebec. Late in the year, we signed an agreement to provide aluminium certified as “responsible” by the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) to Nespresso – we are the first company to achieve ASI certification.
In September, we completed the sale of the last of our coal assets, becoming the only major mining company to divest completely from fossil fuel production. And in December, we completed the sale of our interest in the Grasberg copper mine, in Indonesia. Today, our portfolio is differentiated from our industry peers, with a fundamentally changed exposure to environmental, social and governance risks.
In November, we were pleased to be ranked the top extractives company and the second overall on the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark. We understand we have more work to do, but take such recognition to mean we are on the right track. As we look to the future, we can say with certainty that Rio Tinto will be part of the solution. We will continue to make every effort to keep our people safe and healthy. Our focus on partnership and sustainability will intensify.
And we will continue to create superior value for our shareholders, our communities, our employees, and the world at large.