Rio Tinto Company Profile

British-Australian mining multinational Rio Tinto has made huge profits for its investors while damaging the environment, displacing people from their homes and exploiting workers around the world.

You can find our 2010 Company Profile on Rio Tinto and other articles in the right hand column of this page.

Click here for details of the company’s head office and other basic details from the opencorporates website.

There is also lots of useful information on Rio Tinto’s website:

  • Click here to find out what Rio Tinto is currently mining and producing, and where.

  • Click here to find out who Rio Tinto‘s directors and board members are.

  • Click here for details of their latest profits and other financial results.

  • Click here to download Rio Tinto’s latest annual report and accounts.

For a more critical perspective on Rio Tinto’s work, and for links to campaigns against it, try the Mines and Communities and London Mining Network websites.

Who, Where, How much

Structure / ownership

 

Rio Tinto Group is a dual listed company (DLC), and as such has separate shareholder listings for Rio Tinto PLC and Rio Tinto Limited, however shareholders from both lists own the assets of both companies as if they were one.

Significant shareholding for Rio Tinto PLC1

Name – Date of notice – Number of shares – % of issued share capital

Barclays PLC – 12 Jul 2006 – 42,129,019 – 4.02

The Capital Group Companies, Inc – 13 Jun 2006 – 41,031,494 – 3.90

Capital Research and Management Co. – 16 July 2009 – 5,461,183 – 4.95

AXA S.A. – 29 Jan 2008 – 48,493,873 – 4.86

Shining Prospect Pte. Ltd2 – 2 Feb 2008 – 119,705,134 – 12.00

BlackRock Inc. – 1 Dec 2009 – 127,744,871 – 8.38

Top 20 share holders – Rio Tinto Limited3

Rio Tinto Limited – Number of shares – % of issued share capital

1 Tinto Holdings Australia Pty Limited – 171,072,520 – 28.19

2 HSBC Custody Nominees (Australia) Limited – 85,679,627 – 14.12

3 JP Morgan Nominees Australia Limited – 64,267,120 – 10.59

4 National Nominees Limited – 53,343,702 – 8.79

5 Citicorp Nominees Pty Limited – 13,918,306 – 2.29

6 ANZ Nominees Limited – 11,791,068 – 1.94

7 Cogent Nominees Pty Limited – 8,141,201 – 1.34

8 UBS Wealth Management Australia Nominees Pty Ltd – 3,835,054 – 0.63

9 Citicorp Nominees Pty Limited – 3,690,746 – 0.61

10 Queensland Investment Corporation – 3,660,711 – 0.60

11 Australian Foundation Investment Company Ltd – 3,573,706 – 0.59

12 AMP Life Limited – 3,309,624 – 0.55

13 Argo Investments Limited – 2,393,539 – 0.39

14 UBS Nominees Limited – 2,322,435 – 0.38

15 Australian Reward Investment Alliance – 2,021,359 – 0.33

16 Perpetual Trustee Company Limited – 1,960,255 – 0.32

17 RBC Dexia Investor Services Australia Nominees Pty Ltd – 1,374,370 – 0.23

18 RBC Dexia Investor Services Australia Nominees Pty Ltd – 1,072,295 – 0.18

19 Citicorp Nominees Pty Limited – 990,225 – 0.16

20 Citicorp Nominees Pty Limited – 982,361 – 0.16

Total – 439,400,224 – 72.41

Personnel

Jan Du Plessis – Chairman

Appointed Director of Rio Tinto September 2008, appointed Chairman in 2009.

Previous/other appointments:

Ex-Chairman & Non-Executive Director of British American Tobacco, 1999-2009.

Previously a Non-Executive Director of Lloyds Banking Group.

Group finance Director of the Swiss Luxury goods company, Richemont, 1988-2004.

Chairman of RHM plc (flour & bakery goods), 2005-2007.

Non-Executive Director of Marks & Spencer’s since November 2008

Tom Albanese – CEO

From a mining rather than business background. Employed at Rio Tinto since 1993, holding various posts and eventually appointed Chief Executive in 20064

Previous/other appointments:

Director of Ivanhoe Mines Limited from 2006 to 2007.5

Director of Palabora Mining Company from 2004 to 2006.6

Member of the Executive Committee of the International Copper Association from 2004 to 2006. 7

Guy Elliot – Chief Financial Officer

From a background in investment banking. CFO since 2002 and part of Rio Tinto since 1980.8

Previous/other appointments:

Non-Executive Director and Senior Independent Director of Cadbury plc from 2007 and 2008 respectively, until March 2010 9

Sam Walsh – Executive Director and Chief Executive Iron Ore, Perth

A background in the car industry, previously employed by Nissan & General motors.10 Joined Rio Tinto in 1991, holding various management roles within the group.

Previous/other appointments:

Sam Walsh is also a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management, the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and the Australian Institute of Company Directors. 11Director of Western Australian Newspaper Holdings Limited since December 2008.

Chair of Black Swan State Theatre Company Limited since March 2009.

Chair of WA chapter of Australian Business Arts Foundation since 2008.

Director of the Committee for Perth Ltd between 2006 and August 2009.

Director of the Australian Mines and Metals Association between 2001 and 2005.

Director of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry between 2003 and 2005. 12

Sir David Clementi – Non-Executive Director

Graduate of Oxford and Harvard.13 Banking background. Alumni and current warden of Winchester College, the oldest surviving private school in England.14

A Rio Tinto director since 2003. Chairman of the Audit Committee 2008-201015

Previous/other appointments:

Previously Deputy Governor of the Bank of England.16

Chief Executive Officer of the private bank, Kleinwort Benson. 17

Non-Executive Director of Foreign & Colonial Investment Trust plc since May 2008.

Chairman, King’s Cross Central General Partnership since October 2008.

Chairman of Prudential plc from 2002 until 2008.

Member of the Financial Reporting Council between 2003 and 2007.18

Vivienne Cox – Non-Executive Director

Director since 2005. Oxford graduate. Career at BP.

Previous/other appointments:

Non-Executive Director of Climate Change Capital Limited since May 2008 and Non-Executive Chairman since November 2009.

Member of the supervisory board of Vallourec since 23 February 2010.

Member of the Board of INSEAD since May 2009.

Executive Vice President for BP plc between 2004 and 2009. 19

Sir Rod Eddington – Non-Executive Director

Director since 2005. Aviation background.

Previous/other appointments:

Non executive chairman of JPMorgan Australia and New Zealand since 2006.

Director of CLP Holdings since 2006.

Director of News Corporation plc since 1999.

Director of John Swire & Son Pty Limited since 1997.

Chairman Infrastructure Australia since February 2008.

Director of Allco Finance Group Limited from 2006 until 2009.

Chief Executive British Airways plc from 2000 until 2005.

Chairman of the EU/Hong Kong Business Co-operation Committee of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council from 2002 until 2006. 20

Yves Fortier – Non-Executive Director

Director since 2007. A Professional lawyer, who also served as a diplomat representing Canada at the UN.

Previous/other appointments:

Chairman emeritus and senior partner of Ogilvy Renault since June 2009.

Chairman of Ogilvy Renault from 1992 until May 2009.

Director of NOVA Chemicals Corporation from 1998 until April 2009.

Chairman and director of Alcan Inc. from 2002 until 2007.

Director of Royal Bank of Canada from 1992 to 2005.

Director of Nortel Corporation from 1992 to 2005.

Governor of Hudson’s Bay Company from 1998 to 2006.

Trustee of the International Accounting Standards Committee from 2000 to 2006. 21

Ann Godbehere – Non-Executive Director

The only other female member of the board, along with Vivienne Cox.From a banking background, previously chief financial officer of Swiss Re and Northern Rock. Due to replace David Clementi as chairperson of the board’s audit committee in 2010.

Previous/other appointments:

Non-Executive Director of UBS AG since April 2009.

Non-Executive Director of Atrium Underwriting Group Limited and Ariel Group Limited since November 2007.

Non-Executive Director of Prudential since August 2007 and Chairman of the Audit committee since October 2009.

Chief Financial Officer and Executive Director of Northern Rock from 2008 to 2009.

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard – Non-Executive Director

A director since 2003. Lord Kerr made his career in the UK diplomatic service which he headed between 1997 and 2002, serving in the Soviet Union, Pakistan, EU and USA.

Previous/other appointments:

Member of House of Lords since 2004.

Director of Scottish Power Limited since July 2009.

Deputy Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell plc since 2005.

Director of The Scottish American Investment Trust plc since 2002.

Advisory board member BAE Systems since 2008.

Chairman of the Centre for European Reform (London) since 2008.

Vice President of the European Policy Centre (Brussels) since 2007.

Chairman of the Court and Council of Imperial College, London since 2005.

Trustee of the Rhodes Trust since 1997 and the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland since 2005.

Director of The “Shell” Transport and Trading Company plc from 2002 to 2005.

Advisory board member, Scottish Power (Iberdrola) from 2007 to July 2009.

Trustee of The National Gallery from 2002 to February 2010. 22

Richard Goodmanson -Non-Executive Director

Previous/other appointments:

Previously held two senior positions at chemicals giant DuPont.

Also worked for McKinsey & Co and PepsiCo.

Non-Executive Director of Qantas Airways Limited since June 2008.

Economic advisor to the Governor of Guangdong Province, China since 2003.

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of DuPont from 1999 until September 2009.

Director of the United Way of Delaware between 2002 and June 2009, and Chairman between January 2006 and June 2007. 23

Andrew Gould – Non-Executive Director

Previous/other appointments:

Chairman and chief executive officer of Schlumberger Limited since 2003.

Member of the board of trustees of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia since October 2008.

Member of the advisory board of the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia since 2007.

Member of the commercialisation advisory board of Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine, London since 2002.

Member of the UK Prime Minister’s Council of Science and Technology from 2004 to 2007. 24

David Mayhew – Non-Executive Director

An Eton graduate25 and Rio Tinto director since 2000.

Previous/other appointments:

Joined private stockbrokers Cazenove in 1969, in 2010 became the vice chairman of JP Morgan.

Advised the British government on dealing with the collapse of RBS and HBOS.26

Vice Chairman of JPMorgan effective January 2010.

Chairman of Cazenove Group Limited between 2001 and January 2010.

Chairman of JPMorgan Cazenove Holdings Limited (formerly Cazenove Group plc) between 2005 and January 2010.27

Paul Tellier – Non-Executive Director

Director since 2007. Spent much of his career in the Canadian government.28

Previous/other appointments:

Chairman of Global Container Terminals since 2007.

Director of BCE Inc since 1999.

Director of McCain Foods since 1996.

Director of Bell Canada since 1996.

Trustee of the International Accounting Standards Foundation since 2007.

Co-chair of the Prime Minister of Canada’s Advisory Committee on the Renewal of the Public Service since 2006.

Strategic Advisor to Société Générale (Canada) since 2005.

Member of the advisory board of General Motors of Canada since 2005.

Non-Executive Director of Alcan Inc. from 1998 to 2007.

Robert Brown – Non-Executive Director

A director since Febuary 2010.

Previous/other appointments:

Non-Executive Director of Groupe Aeroplan Inc since 2005 and chairman since January 2008.

Non-Executive Director of Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE Inc) since May 2009.

President and Chief Executive Officer of CAE Inc from August 2004 until September 2009

Non-Executive Director of Nortel Corporation from 2000 to 2006, Allen Vanguard Corporation from 2003 to 2005 and Ace Aviation Holdings Inc from 2004 to April 2009. 29

Subsidiaries

Rio Tinto own or represent significant stakes in over 30 major subsidiaries. Some of the largest are:

Rio Tinto Alcan

Rio Tinto Borax

Rio Tinto Energy America

Grasberg Joint venture

For full information on all of Rio Tinto’s subsidiaries visit its website: www.riotinto.com/whatweproduce/218_our_companies.asp

References
[1] www.riotinto.com/annualreport2009/shareholder_information/substantial_shareholders.html
[2] Shining prospect pte. Limited are a subsidiary of Chinalco

[3] www.riotinto.com/annualreport2009/shareholder_information/twenty_largest_registered_shareholders.html
[4] www.reuters.com/finance/stocks/officerProfile?symbol=RTP&officerId=642025
[5] www.riotinto.com/whoweare/chief_executive.asp
[6] www.riotinto.com/whoweare/chief_executive.asp
[7] www.riotinto.com/whoweare/chief_executive.asp
[8] www.riotinto.com/whoweare/3632_finance_director.asp
[9] www.riotinto.com/whoweare/3632_finance_director.asp
[10] www.riotinto.com/whoweare/3632_sam_walsh.asp
[11] www.riotinto.com/whoweare/3632_sam_walsh.asp
[12] www.riotinto.com/whoweare/3632_sam_walsh.asp
[13] www.riotinto.com/whoweare/3720_sir_david_clementi.asp
[14] www.winchestercollege.co.uk/governing-body
[15] www.riotinto.com/whoweare/3720_sir_david_clementi.asp
[16] www.riotinto.com/whoweare/3720_sir_david_clementi.asp
[17] www.riotinto.com/whoweare/3720_sir_david_clementi.asp
[18] www.riotinto.com/whoweare/3720_sir_david_clementi.asp
[19] www.riotinto.com/whoweare/3720_vivienne_cox.asp
[20] www.riotinto.com/whoweare/3720_sir_rod_eddington.asp
[21] www.riotinto.com/whoweare/5908_yves_fortier.asp
[22] www.riotinto.com/whoweare/3720_lord_kerr_of_kinlochard.asp
[23] www.riotinto.com/whoweare/3720_richard_goodmanson.asp
[24] www.riotinto.com/whoweare/3720_andrew_gould.asp
[25] http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/movers_and_shakers/article6917875.ece
[26] http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/movers_and_shakers/article6917875.ece
[27] www.riotinto.com/whoweare/3720_david_mayhew.asp
[28] www.riotinto.com/whoweare/5908_paul_tellier.asp
[29] www.riotinto.com/whoweare/5908_robert_brown.asp

Products & projects

Rio Tinto’s production is divided into 5 categories [1]

Aluminium

Products: Bauxite, Alumina, Specialty Aluminas, Aluminium

[Used for – Cars, aircraft, packaging, electronics]

Employees: 22,919

Contribution to gross sales Revenue: 27%

Copper

Products: Copper, Gold, Silver, MolybdenumBauxite

[Used for – Pipes, electronics, construction, coins, arms]

Employees: 7,612

Contribution to gross sales Revenue: 14%

Diamonds & Minerals

Products: Diamonds, Borates, Titanium dioxide feedstocks, Talc, High purity iron, Metal powders, Zircon, Rutile,

[Used for – Jewellery, paint, cosmetics, chemical]

Employees: 7,375

Contribution to gross sales Revenue: 6%

Energy

Products: Thermal coal, Coking coal, Uranium

[Used for – Power generation, fuel]

Employees: 7,631

Contribution to gross sales Revenue: 15%

Iron ore

Products: Iron ore, Salt

[used for – Construction, machinery]

Employees: 11,375

Contribution to gross sales Revenue: 29%

Production

In 2008 Rio Tinto produced:

Bauxite – 34,998,000 tonnes2

Aluminium – 4,062,000 tonnes3

Alumina – 9,009,000 tonnes4

Borates – 610,000 tonnes5

Coal – 153,111,000 tonnes6

Copper (mined) – 699,000 tonnes7

Copper (refined) – 322,000 tonnes8

Diamonds – 20,016,000 carats9

Gold (mined) – 501,000 ounces10

Gold (refined) – 303,000 ounces11

Silver (mined) – 7,176,000 ounces12

Silver (refined) – 3,252,000 ounces13

Iron ore – 153,394,000 tonnes14

Pig iron – 87,000 tonnes15

Molybdenum – 10,600 tonnes16

Salt – 6,135,000 tonnes17

Talc – 1,163,000 tonnes18

Titanium Dioxide – 1,524,000 tonnes19

Uranium – 14,200 pounds20

Projects

Rio Tinto is involved – either directly or through its subsidiaries – in over 100 exploration, extraction and processing projects globally. Examples of some of Rio Tinto’s largest mining projects are:

Pilbara – The Pilbara mining project in western Australia comprises a network of 11 mines with three shipping terminals and its own private railway.21 The mine began operations in 1966 and is currently producing 220 million tonnes of iron ore annually22, Rio Tinto aim to expand production to 330 million tonnes annually by 201523.

Grasberg – The Grasberg mine in Papua, Indonesia is one of the most profitable mines in operation globally and contains one of the the world’s largest gold and copper deposits24. Rio Tinto owns Grasberg jointly with US mining company Freeport McMoRan, employing around 20,000 people in Papua25. The mine contributed US$232 million to Rio Tinto’s net earnings in 2005.26 Grasberg is a highly controversial project and Rio Tinto proudly boasts of the mine’s profitability despite evidence of complicity in serious human rights abuses and large scale environmental devastation (See Corporate crimes).
Full information on Rio Tinto’s projects can be found on its website: www.riotinto.com/whatweproduce/our_operations.asp

References
[1] Information From 2009 annual report [weblink]

[2] www.riotinto.com/whatweproduce/452_aluminium_4336.asp
[3] www.riotinto.com/whatweproduce/452_aluminium_4336.asp
[4] www.riotinto.com/whatweproduce/452_aluminium_4336.asp
[5] www.riotinto.com/whatweproduce/452_borates_3603.asp
[6] www.riotinto.com/coal_461.asp
[7] www.riotinto.com/whatweproduce/copper_3591.asp
[8] www.riotinto.com/whatweproduce/copper_3591.asp
[9] www.riotinto.com/whatweproduce/452_diamonds_568.asp
[10] www.riotinto.com/whatweproduce/452_gold_and_silver_4735.asp
[11] www.riotinto.com/whatweproduce/452_gold_and_silver_4735.asp
[12] www.riotinto.com/whatweproduce/452_gold_and_silver_4735.asp
[13] www.riotinto.com/whatweproduce/452_gold_and_silver_4735.asp
[14] www.riotinto.com/whatweproduce/572_iron_ore_3565.asp
[15] www.riotinto.com/whatweproduce/572_iron_ore_3565.asp
[16] www.riotinto.com/whatweproduce/452_other_minerals_4042.asp
[17] www.riotinto.com/whatweproduce/salt_3765.asp
[18] www.riotinto.com/whatweproduce/452_talc_4034.asp
[19] www.riotinto.com/whatweproduce/452_titanium_dioxide_5141.asp
[20] www.riotinto.com/whatweproduce/452_uranium_4653.asp
[21] www.riotintoironore.com/ENG/operations/index_operations.asp
[22] www.riotintoironore.com/ENG/operations/301_pilbara.asp
[23] Rio Tinto Annual report 2009

[24] www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?
[25] www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?
[26] Fanning the flames: the role of British mining companies in conflict and the violation of human rights. War on want, Nov. 2007

Corporate crimes

Labour violations

 

From its earliest days Rio Tinto has been involved in exploitative labour practices in order to maintain high profits. The Spanish mines at Huelva where Rio Tinto’s operations began was the site of numerous industrial actions and during the Spanish civil war Rio Tinto infamously applauded Franco’s forces for assassinating strikers and a group of radical miners who occupied their mines.12 Due to their policy of operating only with high quality, large reserve deposits3 Rio Tinto’s projects are uniformly large in scale with a lengthy lifespan. This means a large workforce with long term employment prospects, yet in order to keep profits high Rio Tinto has employed an array of tactics designed to maximise exploitation and prevent union activity. These attempts essentially amount to a company wide ‘deunionisation’ policy and in response workers of Rio Tinto came together in 1997 to form a global union to protect themselves against the company (the ICEM Rio Tinto Global Union Network). As former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke stated, “What runs through as a common thread is [Rio Tinto’s] philosophy that they want to see the trade unions out of their operations”.4

The Borax mine in southern California, run by a wholly owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto is the site of an ongoing attack on unionised workers by management, who are attempting to impose new contracts that would increase precarity and overtime whilst scrapping the seniority system, allowing managers to cut jobs, hours and pay at whim with little benefits for the workers.5 After voting unanimously to reject the new contract, workers who turned up for shifts the next day January 31st 2010 found themselves locked out. Rio Tinto has maintained production at Boron through the use of professional scab labour provided by security firm, JR Gettier.6 Borax management’s actions amount to a pre-emptive attempt to destroy the workers’ ability to take any sort of collective action to defend themselves.

Rio Tinto has also seen significant labour conflict at its Rossing Uranium mine in Namibia, where concerns have long been raised about apartheid-style discrimination against black workers.7 Conditions at the mine and the Arandis camp where the workers live were described in 1979 as “akin to slavery”8. In the same year, miners went on strike after the introduction of pay awards that saw white employees receive 12 times that of black workers, an action that was broken up by police violence involving dogs and tear gas.9 Rossing management refused to recognise an independent workers union until 198710. In 1989, a Newspaper investigation found over 90% of black workers’ earnings in the company’s lowest wage bracket, which did not constitute a living wage.1112 Most recently, workers at Rossing walked out in a series of wildcat strikes in 2008.13

Environment and safety

Rio Tinto claim on their website that “when an operation reaches the end of its life, we close it safely and rehabilitate the land, often restoring such natural biodiversity to the area that you would never know that a mine, smelter or refinery had once been there.”14 The countless documented cases of environmental devastation caused by Rio Tinto’s operations present an entirely different picture.

Rio Tinto’s Grasberg mine, run jointly with Freeport McMoRan is located in the heart of Mount Jaya in West Papua. It is home to three of the world’s eight remaining equatorial glaciers as well as a sacred site for the indigenous people inhabiting the region and dependent on its ecosystem to survive. Apart from gradually destroying huge sections of the mountain top, the mine uses more than a billion gallons of water a month and dumps 230,000 tonnes of toxic waste into the Ajkwa rivers each day, killing all plant life along its banks and contaminating drinking water supplies.15 Waste dumping into lake Wanagon, also considered sacred by the local Anungme people, will total 3.5 billion tonnes throughout the mines’ lifetime.1617 In 2000, the mine’s waste dump dam collapsed killing four workers and sending tidal waves of waste down the mountainside destroying the local village.18 In a statement of astonishing insensitivity Freeport McMoRan’s CEO Jim Bob Moffet likened the environmental impact of the Grasberg operations to him “pissing in the Arafura sea”19.

Similar effects have been documented at the Panguna mine in Bougainville where around a billion tonnes of waste was dumped into three local rivers, killing all aquatic life before it was shut down by a revolutionary indigenous uprising in 1989. 20Locals claim contaminated water supplies led to birth defects and that mining activities caused the extinction of the island’s flying fox population.2122 Representatives of the Bougainville islanders filed an ongoing lawsuit in the United States in 2000 for damages caused by Rio Tinto.23

In Australia, the ERA, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto, runs a uranium mine where over 100 serious incidents have been recorded, including ‘unacceptable contamination. The Ranger mine was found to have been leaking around 100,000 litres of water a day with a uranium level 5,500 times higher than normal.24 An Australian senate committee was advised that the site ‘would be impossible to rehabilitate’, yet despite this ERA, which made a net profit of AU$273 million in 200925, refutes these claims and has stated that Ranger is one of the most environmentally regulated mines in the world.26 In March 2007, when a contaminated water pipe was mistakenly attached to a drinking fountain, management failed to warn workers despite being alerted soon after the incident happened. Staff at the mine unwittingly showered in the water, and at least three people drank it, yet when the workers sought medical treatment they were effectively sacked.27

Human rights

In a bewilderingly blatant act of racist collusion between police forces and Rio Tinto in November 1963, a night time operation was carried out in which the entire aboriginal community of Mapoon were arrested whilst the entire town burned to the ground in order that work could begin on the Weipa bauxite mine.28 It took 35 years for a settlement to be reached between Rio Tinto and the displaced residents.

The environmental devastation and social displacement caused by Rio Tinto’s Panguna mine on the pacific island of Bougainville (mentioned above) was so great that it sparked an armed secessionist uprising by the local population, who formed the Bougainville revolutionary army in 1988. After a series of raids, attacks on Rio Tinto workers and acts of sabotage the mine was forced to close. With the Panguna mine contributing 45% of Papua New Guinea’s export revenue’s the government was quick to act against the rebels, and in May 1989 sent in troops with ‘shoot to kill orders’.29 Reports of human rights abuses over this period are rife. Between 1989-1990 alone, it is estimated that 6,000 homes were destroyed and 24,000 people forcibly relocated to concentration camp-style ‘care centres’.30 Meanwhile, the Australian government donated helicopters, military advisors and Au $32 million of military aid to PNG.31 Under the Australian’s guidance the PNG defence force lay siege to Bougainville, preventing any supplies coming onto the island, a blockade which was to last eight years. During the conflict and around 15,000 Bougainvillians – roughly 10% of the islands population – lost their lives. It is claimed that Rio Tinto worked closely with the PNG and Australian authorities during this time, encouraging the conflict and colluding in the numerous abuses against islanders.32 Bougainville citizens have been pursuing a class action law suit in the US against Rio Tinto since 2000.33

The Freeport McMoRan mine at Grasberg, west Papua has also stimulated vast discontent amongst the indigenous people of the area. The site of the mine, Mount Jaya, is considered by the Amungme people to be the head of their sacred mother, who has not only been decapitated, but is now having her heart dug into.34 Apart from contamination of water and food sources, many locals were forced to relocate to the lowlands and there has been a sharp rise in malaria fatalities.35 Keen to avoid a similar defeat at Grasberg to that experienced in Bougainville, the mine’s management has pumped vast sums of money into securing the region around its operations. They paid $20 million over a 7 year period to Indonesion police and military, including payments to individual commanders and paramilitary groups known for human rights abuses. The area around Grasberg is now the most militarised region in Indonesia.36 Locals whose lives have been destroyed are faced with the threat of serious violence if they protest against the mine, there are countless cases of murder, rape and torture against residents of

the region.37 The conflict in West Papua has claimed around 10,000 lives38, but remains a huge earner for Rio Tinto, which made US $232 million from its stake in the Grasberg project in 2005 alone39. Around 4,000 Amungme people have been displaced since the mine’s creation in 1976, yet none of them have received any compensation from the company.40

The actions of Rio Tinto Group worldwide exhibit systematic environmental and social abuses, which in their striking similarity and number cannot be reduced to individual incidents. Throughout all of the companies’ operations there is a clear strategy of maximising profitability by any means possible, including violation of local and international law; collusion and funding of armed repression; corruption, lobbying and political manipulation; price-fixing; aggressive union busting; wholesale environmental destruction; and negligent health and safety policies.

Perhaps most shocking is the fact that Rio Tinto is considered by many ethical business rankings a leader in the mining sector. The FTSE4good ethical share index included Rio Tinto in its listing in 200741, whilst Covalence42 rates Rio Tinto second ‘best’ in the ‘basic resources’ category and 44th across all sectors43. If a company with as deplorable a track record as Rio Tinto is considered to be one of the best behaved miners we must call into question both the credibility of such ‘ethical’ ranking systems and also the bad practice of the extractive industries as a whole.

References
[1] www.thenation.com/doc/20100329/davis/2
[2] www.greenleft.org.au/1997/300/15334
[3] www.riotinto.com/ourapproach/17194_life_of_an_operation.asp
[4] Rio Tinto Unravelled, www.hagens-berman.com/files/Rio%20Tinto-History%20of%20Business%20Practices-APPROVED%20FINAL%20with%20letterhead1037669316422.pdf
[5] http://boraxminers.com/tenexamples.PDF
[6] www.icem.org/en/78-ICEM-InBrief/3607-Rio-Tinto-Engaged-in-Savage-Union-Busting-at-California-Borates-Mine
[7] www.sea-us.org.au/gulliver/rossing.html
[8] www.sea-us.org.au/gulliver/rossing.html
[9] www.sea-us.org.au/gulliver/rossing.html
[10] www.sea-us.org.au/gulliver/rossing.html
[11] www.sea-us.org.au/gulliver/rossing.html
[12] Rio Tinto Unravelled, www.hagens-berman.com/files/Rio%20Tinto-History%20of%20Business%20Practices-APPROVED%20FINAL%20with%20letterhead1037669316422.pdf
[13] www.crocodyl.org/wiki/rio_tinto_group
[14] www.riotinto.com/ourapproach/17194_life_of_an_operation.asp
[15] www.ratical.com/ratville/IPEIE/IJ_PNG.html
[16] Fanning the flames: the role of British mining companies in conflict and the violation of human rights. War on want, Nov. 2007

[17] www.ratical.com/ratville/IPEIE/IJ_PNG.html
[18] www.ratical.com/ratville/IPEIE/IJ_PNG.html
[19] www.ratical.com/ratville/IPEIE/IJ_PNG.html
[20] www.ecnt.org/pdf/mining_2001_04_27_rio.pdf
[21] www.landswaps.com/documents/2DABE9BD15E37DF0B441018A223BEBD033676499.html
[22] www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/jfadt/bougainville/bv_chap2.htm
[23] www.hbsslaw.com/rio_tinto_lawsuit
[24] www.minesandcommunities.org//article.php?a=9914
[25] www.theaustralian.com.au/business/mining-energy/eras-profit-up-23pc-flags-higher-costs-in-2010/story-e6frg9dx-1225824619184
[26] www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/02/09/2814665.htm
[27] http://sa.org.au/component/content/article/717
[28] Rio Tinto: Tainted Titan, ICEM, 1998 – www.cfmeu.com.au/storage/documents/rio/RT.pdf
[29] www.eco-action.org/ssp/bougainville.html
[30] www.eco-action.org/ssp/bougainville.html
[31] www.eco-action.org/ssp/bougainville.html
[32] Fanning the flames: the role of British mining companies in conflict and the violation of human rights. War on want, Nov. 2007

[33] Rio Tino: Tainted Titan, ICEM, 1998 – www.cfmeu.com.au/storage/documents/rio/RT.pdf
[34] Rio Tino: Tainted Titan, ICEM, 1998 – www.cfmeu.com.au/storage/documents/rio/RT.pdf
[35] Rio Tino: Tainted Titan, ICEM, 1998 – www.cfmeu.com.au/storage/documents/rio/RT.pdf
[36] Fanning the flames: the role of British mining companies in conflict and the violation of human rights. War on want, Nov. 2007

[37] Rio Tino: Tainted Titan, ICEM, 1998 – www.cfmeu.com.au/storage/documents/rio/RT.pdf
[38] Fanning the flames: the role of British mining companies in conflict and the violation of human rights. War on want, Nov. 2007

[39] Fanning the flames: the role of British mining companies in conflict and the violation of human rights. War on want, Nov. 2007

[40] www.ratical.com/ratville/IPEIE/IJ_PNG.html
[41] www.riotinto.com/media/5157_6724.asp
[42] www.covalence.ch/index.php/ethical-rankings/basic-resources/
[43] www.covalence.ch/index.php/ethical-rankings/across-sectors/

Influence / lobbying

ICMM – Rio Tinto is a member of the International council on Mining & Metals (ICMM), which is the mining industry’s main lobbying body. The ICMM engages state and global institutions, governments, civil society, academia, communities and indigenous groups to represent the interests of the mining industry. Amongst its lobbying the ICMM has been responsible for extensive opposition to ‘free prior and informed consent’, a safeguard designed to include indigenous communities in decision making processes about proposed mining projects on their lands.1

Global Compact – Rio Tinto is a founding member of the UN Global Compact which aims to uphold values in human rights, labour standards and environmental practice. The Compact is open for adherence by any company, large or small, no formalities are involved but companies are asked to demonstrate their adherence by taking corporate action to support the values of the Compact. Rio Tinto’s participation was based on a case study of its Borax mine in California which it boasted upheld freedom of association and the rights to collective bargaining.1 This was clearly contravened in 2010 when Borax locked out over 500 workers during a dispute over contract negotiations (see Corporate crimes). For more information on the UN Global Compact see www.inwent.org/ez/articles/061227/index.en.shtml

Informal connections – Through its board of governors Rio Tinto has links to some of the largest and most powerful companies worldwide, including BP, Lloyds, British American Tobacco, Prudential, British Airways, News Corporation, BAE Systems, JP Morgan and many more. Connections to the British establishment include the House of lords, Bank of England, UK diplomatic service and the Defence Management Board (see Personnel).

References
[1] www.minesandcommunities.org//article.php?
[2] www.unglobalcompact.org/system/attachments/451/original/8fcec247-f700-0010-0080-d75e54f851fd.doc?1262614052

Links, contacts & resources

Company website: www.riotinto.com

www.minesandcommunities.org/
http://londonminingnetwork.org/
www.crocodyl.org/wiki/rio_tinto_group
www.miningwatch.ca/
www.freewestpapua.org/

Reports and Literature:

-Plunder by Roger Moody, ISBN no. 09517522 0 0

-Fanning the flames: the role of British mining companies in conflict and the violation of human rights. War on want, Nov. 2007. Available online at www.waronwant.org/campaigns/corporations-and-conflict/mining-a-poverty/inform/15142-fanning-the-flames

-Rio Tino: Tainted Titan, ICEM, 1998 – www.cfmeu.com.au/storage/documents/rio/RT.pdf

-Rio Tinto Unravelled, www.hagens-berman.com/files/Rio%20Tinto-History%20of%20Business%20Practices-APPROVED%20FINAL%20with%20letterhead1037669316422.pdf

Documentaries:

The Coconut Revolution – http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=9073157933630784238#

 


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