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Indonesia: another fatality at the Grasberg mine

29 January, 2015A mine worker was killed on 24 January at Rio Tinto's minority-owned mine in Papua, Indonesia. This brings the death toll at the mine over the last two years to a staggering 39.

A worker at the Freeport copper and gold mine in the Indonesian province of Papua was killed in a workplace accident on 24 January.

Mining giant Rio Tinto, who owns a stake in the mine, is consistently failing to take public responsibility for the numerous deaths at this site. In internal e-mails to the staff following the two most recent fatal incidents at the mine, Rio Tinto’s CEO Sam Walsh even blames the workers themselves for the accidents, citing bad driving practices and workers being “complacent”.

The Freeport mine has a chequered history when it comes to work related accidents.

In May 2013, 28 mineworkers died at the mine in what was described as the worst mining accident in the history of Indonesia. The roof on a non-operational underground tunnel collapsed during a safety training session, killing 28 miners.

In September 2014, another five workers lost their lives in two separate fatal incidents at the mine.

IndustriALL Global Union Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan slams Rio Tinto’s blatant avoidance of responsibility:

“It is always very convenient for the company to blame the “careless worker” without addressing the workplace culture. Workplace safety culture comes from the top, with management overtly or subtly rewarding risk-taking in favour of production.

Rio Tinto must own up to its responsibility as part-owner of the mine and stop treating workplace deaths lightly. It’s time to clean up, Rio Tinto!