MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Rio under presure on Kakadu

Published by MAC on 2002-04-18

Rio under presure on Kakadu

The Australian - 18 April 02

Rio Tinto executives will be challenged to make a commitment to ending uranium mining in Kakadu at the company's annual meeting in Melbourne.

Protesters will leaflet shareholders outside the meeting at the Melbourne Convention centre today, while inside sympathetic shareholders will challenge executives from the floor.

Australian Conservation Foundation spokeswoman Dave Sweeney said the intention was to push Rio Tinto into formally scrapping its stalled Jabiluka uranium mine at Kakadu, in the Northern Territory.

The group also wants Rio Tinto to begin redeveloping the Jabiluka site, reincorporating it into the Kakadu national park. "There is no intention, nor will there be any moves to obstruct
shareholders; quite the contrary," he said."Every formal and informal poll we have seen shows the majority of people are opposed (to the mine)."

Mr Sweeney argued the proposed mine had been on hold for two years and the company could have no reasonable expectation that it would get the go-ahead from the area's traditional owners, the Mirrar people.

He said the company was a foundation member of an international network of mining companies, the Global Mining Initiative, aimed at improving community perceptions of mining. "We want to clearly call from the floor for Rio Tinto to act in support of what it is saying about the Global Mining Initiative."

Yesterday, the Mirrar repeated their call for the company to rehabilitate the Jabiluka site and incorporate it into the park. They re-released a statement which was read to the company's
London annual meeting on April 11, saying the owners were not comforted by Rio's commitment not to develop the mine within the next decade.

"It is completely unacceptable that this significant threat to Mirrar culture and Kakadu's environment would continue for such an extended period," the statement said.

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