31 July, 2014Global mining giant Rio Tinto markets itself as a 'sustainable company', writes IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan on The Ecologist. But serious failures in its reporting, and its attempt to hold an Australian indigenous group to ransom, reveal a very different truth: the company is driven by a reckless pursuit of profit at any cost.
Rio Tinto uses its sustainability reporting to bolster the argument that it is a responsible company and therefore entitled to a license to operate.
Rio Tinto subsidiary, Energy Resources of Australia (ERA), has threatened the Mirarr people that if it is not allowed to expand its Ranger uranium mining operations underground, it may be unable to fully fund rehabilitation of the open pit mine.
The Ranger mine is located in the traditional lands of the Mirarr, the world heritage-listed Kakadu national park in Australia's Northern Territory.
If ERA does not complete rehabilitation of the site, which suffered a radioactive spill last year, the water, air quality and soil in the area could be scarred with toxic radiation for generations.
'It's not our problem'
When a shareholder confronted Rio Tinto CEO Sam Walsh about this at the company's April annual meeting, Walsh flatly refused to commit to full rehabilitation or take responsibility for the mess.
Walsh said it is a problem for ERA, not Rio Tinto: "We are clearly shareholders [of ERA], but it's a matter for all shareholders and a matter for the ERA board."
What he did not mention is that Rio Tinto is the controlling shareholder of ERA, and that five out of six ERA board members are current or former Rio Tinto employees.
Read the full article on The Ecologist website.