Siemens is one of the largest engineering companies in the world and employs 379,000 people worldwide.
In his letter, Kaeser wrote that he was concerned about the fires and expressed sympathy for people who had lost family members or their homes. However, the managing director said there was "practically no legally and economically responsible way to terminate the contract without neglecting the fiduciary duties." That is, he felt he could not cancel the Australian contract while fulfilling his obligation, protect the company from financial losses.
Instead, Siemens announced the establishment of a sustainability committee that "has the ability to stop and escalate critical projects regardless of whether we are directly or indirectly involved."
"I will also open the doors to young people and the concerns that young people around the world have brought to the table to sit at the table," wrote Kaeser.
A Siemens spokesman said the goal was to prevent cases like the Australian mine from happening again, but he couldn't specify when the committee would be formed or how it would work.
Who is Joe Kaeser?
Siemens seems to have been surprised by the mine controversy. In his open letter, Kaeser said that he was not aware of the contract for the supply of signaling devices.
It's a rare misstep for a CEO who, in recent years, has emerged as one of the few business leaders willing to comment on political controversy.
"When I heard about his death, it was clear to us that we couldn't just go on and do business as usual," said Kaeser in October 2018.