Rio Tinto Corporation

Rio Tinto is a multinational mining and resources group founded originally in 1873. The group is one of the world's largest mining companies, with a pre-tax profit of approximately 10.2 billion US dollars in 2006. Since 1995, Rio Tinto has been a dual listed company. Rio Tinto Ltd is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, with Rio Tinto plc listed on the London Stock Exchange as well as New York Stock Exchange (under ticker RTP). The two companies are managed as a single economic unit by a unified board, which is primarily managed from London.

Rio Tinto Shareholders Address Labor Abuses
SRI World Group, May 10, 2000
(802) 251-0500 union-backed shareholder resolutions call on the European mining giant to adhere to international human rights conventions.

While shareholders in the U.S. are considering nearly 200 social and environmental resolutions this year, shareholder activism is typically more subdued in the European Union, characterized by corporate engagement and dialogue. But shareholder resolutions at the U.K.-based Rio Tinto annual meeting are drawing international attention from union supporters.

At the annual meeting in London today, Rio Tinto shareholders considered two resolutions designed to address the checkered human rights record of the world's largest private mining company. Institutional investors with over $40 billion in assets are supporting these resolutions, the first international shareholder campaign with trade unions from several countries taking on a single corporation.

"We are asking fund managers and trustees to speak out on the risks of investing in companies like Rio Tinto, which do not have good standards of corporate governance or credible workplace codes of labor practice," said John Monks General Secretary of the U.K. Trade Union Congress. The Trade Union Congress (TUC) is one of several union groups from around the world supporting the campaign.

Entire story:

Tinto Lambasted By Environment, Rights Groups
UK May 13, 1999
Reuters News Service

London- Rio Tinto Plc, the world's biggest mining company, came under fire at its annual shareholders' meeting yesterday from environmental and human rights campaigners from around the world.

Some 20 protesters brandished placards saying "People Before Profits" and "Rio Tinto - corporate greed, global grief" outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London where the meeting was held.

Friends of the Earth came to champion the rights of the people of Madagascar and voice concerns over plans for a possible ilmenite mine on the Indian Ocean island.

"Rio Tinto must listen to the fears of local people. This mining plan looks like yet another sacrifice of traditional homes and livelihoods in the interests of multinational profits," said campaigner Sarah Tyack…..

Entire story:


Analysis - Indonesia's Mining Firms No Longer On Solid Ground
INDONESIA : May 17, 2000
Reuters News Service

Protests, legal conflicts and environmental battles have hit several foreign mining firms in Indonesia, and one issue stands at the heart of the disparate challenges they face - Indonesia's drive towards greater democracy and regional autonomy…..

Several recent cases have rocked Indonesia's mining industry.

Earlier this month, gold and silver miner PT Kelian Equatorial mining, owned by Rio Tinto, was forced to temporarily halt production and evacuate workers from its site in East Kalimantan after protesters seeking land compensation blockaded all access roads to the site. …

For entire story see:


AUSTRALIA : May 17, 2000
Story by James Regan
Reuters News Service

MELBOURNE - Lawyers representing some 1,000 people hoping to lodge a class action suit against Australia's Pasminco Ltd over noxious smelter emissions said on Tuesday they will take their fight to the Supreme Court of Victoria after the Federal Court last week ruled the case was outside its jurisdiction.

"Our next step is to take the case to Melbourne, to the corporate headquarters of Pasminco where the company makes all its decisions about its New South Wales and South Australia

The Federal court in Sydney on Friday struck out an application for a class action suit relating to alleged damage caused by the long term effects of lead emissions from Pasminco's lead and zinc smelters at Cockle Creek, New South Wales and Port Pirie, South Australia.

The action charged Pasminco emitted noxious fumes, lead, sulphur dioxide and other toxic pollutants from the smelters, causing a range of symptoms to residents, including headaches, nausea and behavioural problems.

Pasminco was formed in a merger of the silver, lead and zinc operations of North Broken Hill Peko [BHP] Ltd, now North Ltd , and CRA Ltd, now Rio Tinto Plc/Ltd…..


Islanders sue in US over impact of Rio Tinto mine
Friday September 8, 2000
The Guardian
David Pallister

Using an 18th-century American law designed to combat piracy on the high seas, the people of Bougainville island in Papua New Guinea have filed a damages claim in California against Rio Tinto, the Anglo-Australian mining giant based in London.

The suit, alleging that years of copper mining by the company harmed the environmental and human rights on the island, was filed on Wednesday at a San Francisco federal court under the Alien Tort Claims Act 1789. It allows foreign nationals to sue American companies for alleged human rights violations committed abroad. ….

The company, the third largest mining conglomerate in the world, owns, through a subsidiary, 53% of the huge Panguna copper mine—a hole in the forest 3.7 miles long, 2.5 miles wide and a third of a mile deep.

It was opened in 1972 but shut in 1989 when complaints about environmental damage grew into armed conflict over the island's mineral wealth between the government of Papua New Guinea and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army. An eight-year guerrilla war ensued.

The legal claim, filed by a Seattle lawyer, Steve Berman, alleges that the company brought financial influence to bear on Papua New Guinea's government, which is accused by the plaintiffs of killing 15,000 islanders through aerial bombing, village-burning and other acts of destruction.

It says that the company razed forests, polluted rivers, retarded crop growth and caused birth defects. The island has a population of about 170,000.

Mr. Berman said: "We intend to prove that Rio Tinto treated Bourgainvilleans with no respect and thought of them as inferior in every way: socially, economically, racially and politically."….,,365733,00.html


Rio asked to clean up uranium mine work
AUSTRALIA : September 6, 2002
Reuters News Service

SYDNEY - Environmentalists and Aboriginal leaders called on mining giant Rio Tinto Plc/Ltd yesterday to start rehabilitation work on a uranium deposit bordering World Heritage-listed parkland in Australia's far north

Mining engineers had burrowed a 1.2 km long shaft on the site near the the giant Kakadu National Park as part of preliminary work to develop a mine. The work was carried out before the site was acquired by Rio Tinto.

The calls came after Rio Tinto chairman Robert Wilson repeated in a recent interview with the British Broadcasting Corp that no mine would be built without consent of the traditional Aboriginal landowners.

"What we will do is to rehabilitate that area, we will block off the adit (mine shaft), but this is not a very large area, nor in any way is it a threat to the environment," Wilson said

He gave no time frame for performing the rehabilitation work.

Rio Tinto owns 64 percent of Energy Resources of Australia Ltd , following its acquisition of North Ltd two years ago, which already mines uranium about 15 km (nine miles) away…..


Rio Tinto: Global Compact Violator
PT Kelian: A Case Study of Global Operations
July 13th, 2001
by Danny Kennedy

In the third installment in our series documenting corporate violations of the Global Compact's principles we present two articles. The first is written by Danny Kennedy of Project Underground. The second comes from the Asia-Pacific Human Rights Network. In both, the authors examine Rio Tinto's behavior and find the mining conglomerate has violated Principle 1 of the Global Compact, which requests companies to "support and respect the protection of international human rights within their sphere of influence," and Principle 8, which asks business to "undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility."

Rio Tinto could be a poster child for corporate malfeasance. The largest mining company in the world, Rio Tinto has headquarters both in Melbourne, Australia and London, England and operations on all continents except Antarctica. For years, Rio Tinto has had a reputation for being responsible for environmental and human rights violations at its mines and smelters. Prior Rio Tinto corporate incarnations (most immediately Rio Tinto Zinc and Conzinc Rio Tinto Australia) were regularly embroiled in controversy. Accusations of corporate misdeeds include suppressing trade unions at their Australian operations, exposing workers in a uranium mine in Namibia to radiation, and negligence and complicity in the civil war in Papua New Guinea where Conzinc Rio Tinto used to operate a major copper mine.

Rio Tinto executives are conscious of the need to clean up the company's tarnished image. Their efforts range from joining a business organization that promises to create models of business/community partnerships, to signing United Nations' Global Compact in July 2000. Our research, which covers the period since last July, raises serious doubts as to whether Rio Tinto lives up to the principles outlined in the Compact.

We focus on Rio Tinto's record in Indonesia, specifically on a gold mine known as PT Kelian Equatorial Mining in Kalimantan, one of several mines the company operates in Indonesia. We find that just at this one mine alone (90% owned by Rio Tinto) there are disturbing human rights and environmental abuses that violate the principles laid out in the Global Compact.

In particular, there is evidence that Rio Tinto, at its PT Kelian mine in Kalimantan, has violated Principle 1 ("support and respect the protection of international human rights with in their sphere of influence") and Principle 8 (undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility) of the Global Compact…..


Contaminated water shuts Rio uranium mine
AUSTRALIA : March 26, 2004
Story by James Regan
Reuters News Service

SYDNEY - Australia's Ranger uranium mine and processing plant have been shut down after worker complaints of uranium-contaminated drinking water, majority owner Rio Tinto Ltd Plc said yesterday.

Operators aimed to resume mining as early as later in the day, but now estimate it will take until at least the weekend to complete investigations with government regulators into the cause of the contamination.

Operations at the site, 250 km (150 miles) east of Darwin in Australia's far north, ground to a halt on Tuesday when the problem emerged and all non-essential staff sent home, a Rio Tinto spokeswoman said. Government officials were not immediately available to comment.

The number of staff complaining of mild symptoms after showers that may be related to the contaminated water had risen from two to three, Rio Tinto subsidiary Energy Australia Ltd said in a statement.

The mine and plant employ about 200 workers and is owned by ERA, which is 68.4-percent-owned by Rio Tinto.


"We are not sure exactly how this has occurred but uranium got into potable water," the spokeswoman said.

It appeared that an erroneous connection was made between the potable water line used for drinking and washing and the water line used in processing the uranium, she said…..