MAC: Mines and Communities

Rio Tinto update

Published by MAC on 2007-08-22

Rio Tinto update

22nd August 2007

When it bought into Robert Friedland's Ivanhoe Mines last year, Rio Tinto had its eyes on one of the world's biggest copper-gold deposits, Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia. The company was prepared to ride condemnation for investing in Burma, claiming it would demand that Ivanhoe withdraw from the country. In fact, Ivanhoe Mines - and therefore indirectly Rio Tinto - continue to benefit from production at the Monywa mine, as does the infamous Burmese military regime.

As we pointed out at the time [htttp://] this "play" bore a striking resemblance to Rio Tinto's 1995 investment in Freeport's notorious Grasberg mine, where it also purchased a significant equity in the operating company in order to access copper and gold ore.

Now, citizens of Mongolia have demonstrated against a recent visit to Mongolia's capital by Rio Tinto chief executive, Tom Albanese, claiming that this was cynically designed to speed up the undemocratic process of selling off the country's mineral wealth. Some protestors claim that this would lead to "civil war"

If it was any comfort for Albanese, a couple of days earlier he learned that a US federal review has been granted of the case registered against Rio Tinto by Bougainville landowners, and which had earlier cleared the Us Court of Appeal. The litigants assert that the company was complicity in grave human rights abuses during that beleagured territory's own recent resource conflict.


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