MAC: Mines and Communities

Response to Questions by Mineral Policy Institute (Australia) at Rio Tinto Ltd, AGM Perth, Australi

Published by MAC on 2003-05-01

Response to Questions by Mineral Policy Institute (Australia) at Rio Tinto Ltd, AGM Perth, Australia

May 1 2003

(MPI) asked why, given human rights abuses committed by the Indonesian military, why does Rio Tinto, through its joint stake in the Freeport mine, makes payments directly to the military to protect the mine?

(Robert Wilson):"As you well know,the company called Freeport, not Rio Tinto, make payments to the Indonesian forces of law and order.(sic). It is not illegal to pay such money to protect mining interests there. Companies are required to pay money to get jobs done, as in many countries around the world. Rio Tinto is aware of human rights abuses in Indonesia. Freeport's human rights lawyer discusses issues with the local law enforcement agencies. Freeport has done a responsible job.

(MPI) asked whether Rio Tinto was going to cease dumping mine wastes into the sea at Lihir given the view that the dumping contravenes the London anti-dumping convention?) (Wilson): "There is no sensible alternative to pumping waste from the Lihir mine into the sea. The project would fail without dumping waste at sea. Studies by two Australian universities have shown that there is no risk whatsoever to the environment. The waste is pumped below the ocean mixing layers.

(MPI) asked again if, despite these findings by Australian universities, Rio Tinto was acting in contravention of the London Convention and hence creating an exposure for the company,

(Wilson) "The company does not feel exposed by the supposed illegality."

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