Category Archives: rio tinto

Bougainville: shareholders v board

Radio Australia, 8 May 2014

Bougainville Shareholders support corporate review

Updated 8 May 2014, 9:30 AEST
The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility says it is encouraged that most Bougainville Copper shareholders are in favour of appointing an independent jurist to investigate the company’s involvement in counter-insurgency activities during the Bougainville civil war.

The Centre’s resolution, put to the Bougainville Copper annual meeting in Port Moresby was overwhelmingly defeated.

Presenter: Jemima Garrett

Caroline le Couteur, Executive Director of the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/pacific/radio/program/pacific-beat/bougainville-shareholders-hsupport-corporate-review/1307728

Riotinto really are the worst kind of scum

Check this detailed report out:

a4_rio_tinto_report_final2

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 20.56.47

Half million Riotinto drop – payout scum

Possibly the shabbiest thing I have heard since yesterday:

to Vikki
5 hours agoDetails
PNG Exposed, 4 April 2014

Australian academics paid $500,000 over two years for mining work on Bougainville

April 3, 2014

Two Australian academics have been paid almost $500,000 by the Australian government for two years work towards reopening the Panguna mine in Bougainville.

The figures have been revealed by the Australian Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee.

Bougainville has twice rejected Regan’s controversial new Mining Law paid for by Australia

20140405-073139.jpg

Controversial ABG advisor Anthony Regan has been paid over $270,000 – K680,000 – for his work drafting a controversial new Mining Law and other legislation.

Regan’s draft law has twice been rejected by the people pf Bougainville as being too biased in favor of foreign mining companies including Rio Tinto.

The figure revealed by the Committee as paid to Regan includes reimbursable travel costs and covers the period from June 2011 to November 2013.

A second Australian academic Ciaron O’Faircheallaigh has been paid $215,000 over two years for his work on negotiation “of a mining agreement to govern the Panguna mine”.

In total Australia is funding 22 ‘advisor’ positions in Bougainville – at an annual cost of $2.9 million in 2012/13. Some of the positions are full-time, some part-time and some are currently vacant according to the Committee.

original here

Panguna No to reopening Riotinto death mine

Just in:

On Wednesday, April 2, 2014, Bougainville Freedom Movement wrote:
PNG Minewatch, 31 March 2014

Panguna Mothers Reject BCL and Mine

Clive Porabou via Facebook

The Meekamui Women of Panguna find it ridiculous to hear that the Bougainville Women in Mining are supporting the reopening of Panguna Mine when they themselves are ignorant of the facts why the mine was closed.

Stella Placid one of the principal female landowner in the mine pit said that BCL [Rio Tinto] is not welcome in Panguna.

“They are responsible for the 20,000 lives who perished during the uprising.

They also used dangerous chemicals to destroy the eco-system on the land and we cannot grow taro or do any fishing in the rivers.

As you can see today; the Jaba river is polluted, our people relocated with a complete disregard for their needs and the needs of future generations and we lost our land”, said Stella Placid.

“Therefore, our concern not to open the mine must be respected by ABG and stop their political rehetorics and develop the agriculture and fishing sector.

The truth is that we the landowners in the mine pit areas are united in our opposition to the reopening of the mine”; said Stella Placid.

http://ramumine.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/panguna-mothers-reject-bcl-and-mine/

Filthy bastard mining corp Riotinto slips the (legal) noose once again (the law is an ass)

Rio Tinto wins end to human rights abuse lawsuit in U.S.

Fri Jun 28, 2013 2:47pm EDT
* Bougainville residents sued over activity linked to mine
* 9th Circuit rules after top U.S. court narrows law’s reach
By Jonathan Stempel
June 28 (Reuters) – Benefiting from a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Rio Tinto Plc has won the dismissal of a nearly 13-year-old U.S. lawsuit accusing the Anglo-Australian mining company of complicity in human rights abuses on the South Pacific island of Bougainville.
Friday’s ruling by a majority of an 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ends litigation begun in 2000.
Roughly 10,000 current and former Bougainville residents had sought to hold Rio Tinto responsible for human rights violations and thousands of deaths linked to polluting a copper and gold mine it once ran.
The ruling follows the Supreme Court’s April 17 decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co, where the justices limited the sweep of a 1789 U.S. law that lawyers had used for roughly three decades to fight human rights abuses worldwide.
Five justices said the Alien Tort Statute was meant to cover international law violations occurring in the United States, and that violations elsewhere must “touch and concern” U.S. territory “with sufficient force” to displace that presumption.
The Bougainville residents alleged that after workers in 1988 began to sabotage the Rio Tinto mine, the company goaded Papua New Guinea’s government to exact retribution and conspired to impose a blockade, leading to thousands of civilian deaths.
On April 22, the Supreme Court threw out an earlier 9th Circuit ruling that let the lawsuit proceed, and asked it to revisit the matter in light of Kiobel.
Steve Berman, a lawyer for the Bougainville plaintiffs, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
He had asked the 9th Circuit to send the case back to the Los Angeles district court so that his clients could try to proceed with other claims, “sans invocation of the ATS.”
Kiobel was also cited this week by a Virginia federal judge who dismissed a lawsuit accusing defense contractor CACI International Inc of conspiring to torture detainees a decade ago at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
The judge in that case said that because the alleged abuse occurred outside the United States, he lacked jurisdiction to consider claims by four former detainees. They plan to appeal.
The case is Sarei et al v. Rio Tinto Plc et al, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 02-56256.

Trouble for Riotinto (well deserved)

Green Left Weekly,

Bougainville: Rio Tinto faces war crimes allegations in bid to reopen mine

Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Young freedom fighter from the Bougainville Revolutionary Army in 1994. Photo by Francis O’Neill, via eco-action.org.

British-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto is seriously contemplating reopening its Bougainville copper and gold mine, Reuters reported on February 7.

Situated on Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) eastern border with the Solomon Islands, the company’s Bougainville operation was forcefully closed down in November 1988 by traditional landowners who objected to the mine’s environmental and social effects.

bloody civil war ensued, which took up to 20,000 lives on an island of 175,000 people. The war crimes committed by government security forces in the conflict were horrific.

Bougainvillean nurse, Sister Ruby Mirinka, recalled: “One of the victims was a 24-year-old pregnant woman. Shot dead by the PNG soldiers, her abdomen was then cut open to remove the foetus. The dead foetus was then placed on the chest of the dead mother for all to see — as a warning.”

Rio Tinto stands accused of being complicit in these atrocities. In a US class action launched under the Alien Tort Statute, Bougainvillean landowners maintain that Rio Tinto’s subsidiary, Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL), supplied the military with trucks, fuel, accommodation, storage facilities, mess halls, communications equipment and secretarial services.

These allegations were featured in a hard-hitting Dateline report aired on SBS TV in 2011.

In response, company executives adamantly denied complicity. They claimed Rio Tinto’s equipment was commandeered by the defence force after the mine had been abandoned.

BCL director Sir Rabbie Namaliu told The Australian on July 16, 2011: “To suggest that Rio did it deliberately is factually wrong. When I heard about those claims, I thought the whole thing was rather unfair.”

Namaliu was prime minister of PNG from 1988 to 1992. Amnesty International said PNG forces stationed in Bougainville during this period took part in extra-judicial killings, village burnings and the rape of women.

Namaliu is hardly an uncompromised source.

There are other problems with his account. For example, I interviewed eight senior managers who worked for BCL during 1987-1992. They were confident the company did supply the defence force with the aforementioned equipment.

One manager told me: “We did everything they [PNG security forces] asked of us to make their life more comfortable, and better able to manage through, with transport, communications, provisions, whatever, fuel.

“You know, we gave them everything, because as a far as we saw it we were hoping that they were going to solve the situation, so we could start operating again. So we supported them every way we could.”

Perhaps BCL was unaware of the ends to which this logistic support would be applied? Well, its executives seem fairly cogent on this front too.

One manager recalled: “These guys [PNG security forces] were ignorant thugs with guns. Frightened ignorant thugs with guns. Frightened, ignorant thugs with guns a long way from home.”

Another executive remembered surveying the destruction inflicted upon local villages by government forces during April 1989: “Forty, 50 villages, and the crops [were destroyed]. The villages were varying from five or six houses to 20 or 30 houses.”

Naturally, Rio Tinto wants to take advantage of skyrocketing copper and gold prices by dusting off its old South Pacific jewel. I am sure they are attracting a degree of community support from war-weary Bougainvilleans looking to rebuild their shattered island.

That said, communities on Bougainville have yet to be fully briefed on Rio Tinto’s role in defence force operations during the bloody years of 1988-1990. So it would be difficult to argue that this support is based upon informed consent.

Until Rio Tinto commits to full disclosure, any attempt to reopen the Bougainville mine will be another corporate blight on the deeply scarred people of this Melanesian island.

[Dr Kristian Lasslett is an executive board member of the International State Crime Initiative. The International State Crime Initiative’s multi-media presentation on the Bougainville conflict, which includes BCL memorandums and meeting minutes, can be accessed here.]

Trouble at mill [mine]

 

 

Aust warned to stay out of B’ville affairs

Source: 
The National, Wednesday 27th February, 2013

FORMER Bougainville Revolutionary Army commander Sam Kaona has warned Australia not to meddle in Bougainville affairs.
He said the first policy draft on mining in Bougainville was no different from the colonial policy that caused the crisis.
“The Australians have taken control of mining policy in Buka and the first policy draft by ABG legal unit headed by Tony Regan is no different from the previous policy,” Kaona, who is chairman of the recently formed Bougainville Resources Owners Representative Council, said.
He added that the proposed policy, sponsored by AusAID and drafted by Regan, risked Bougainville’s first constitutional crisis.
“Since the constitution is the supreme law of Bougainville, section 23 of the Bougainville constitution, which restores ownership of resources on Bougainville to the customary landowners, is the only option that is constitutionally legal.
“So any attempt to impose any other resource ownership system would be invalid and ineffective – they are risking a constitutional crisis.”
Resources rights activist Simon Ekanda shared similar sentiments.
“Bougainville mining policy does not belong to Regan, BCL (Bougainville Copper Ltd) or the Australians, it belongs to the resource owners and the people of Bougainville.
“This is to be a Bougainville mining policy written by Bougainvilleans in Bougainville for the Bougainville resource owners and people.
“Section 23 of the Bougainville constitution returning the resource ownership to the customary landowners is to be the foundation of that policy.
“Let me be absolutely clear – there will be no compromise on this.
“The Panguna landowners must determine that their interests will be best served by securing a special mining lease over their resource and then to entertain qualified mining companies with the view to putting Panguna back into production.
He also cautioned ABG President John Momis to be careful with the new mining policy.
“Both PNG and Bougainvilleans have died and it is unwise if Momis allows colonial administrators to rewrite Bougainville mining laws.”

#closingceremony

no ADF, no Stones, not even Donovan – could any of them even face performing at that Nuremberg rally? on that stage that was a cross between a police kettle and a technicolor swastika? With Boris, Harry and Cameron pretending to dance, to George Michael singing ‘freedom’ for the peoples of Helmand Province? I don’t think so.

Yeah, so I am realizing I did not really get into the spirit of the closing ceremony, as much as I liked the running, the bikes and the canoes. It just pisses me off no end that criminals like Rio Tinto can parade as sponsors (providing the nickel behind the plate covered medals. Especially during the closing ceremony when I thought maybe some sort of musical contribution, the UK has made some, might get noted. Here for the archive is part of the messy record of the tweets of despair: @sputnyk

 

Australia wins Gold! But can the same be said for Rio Tinto?

Good to see Bougainville Freedom Movement is having a good games. (My view: Fuck Riotinto and all her major shareholders]

Australia wins Gold! But can the same be said for Rio Tinto?
Australia has won its first gold medal, and the athletes were awarded medals made from gold produced by Rio Tinto, the official supplier to the London Olympics. The London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games claims all suppliers have passed the requirements of its ethical sourcing guidelines, but one does not have to dig much at all to see that Rio Tinto should never have been accredited as a supplier to the Games. See http://publishwhatyoupay.org/newsroom/blog/australia-wins-gold-can-same-be-said-rio-tinto.


Rio Tinto – a record fit for the Olympics?
Updated background briefing on the impacts of Olympic medal metal provider Rio Tinto’s mining operations around the world.
http://londonminingnetwork.org/2012/07/rio-tinto-a-record-fit-for-the-olympics/

RTZ are taking the piss

Providing the Metals for the medals at the London Olympiss

[their best slogan: 'Making Modern Life Work' - gee thanks]

Sturm in the South Seas

This is yet another example of the crazy lengths the worlds most grotesque mining company will go to pass off transparently laughable public relations propaganda as fact (lets just say that Rupert Murdoch is mere paper to this lot’s stone in the paper-scissors-stone game that is global plunder). For readers, BCL = Bougainville Copper. RTZ = Riotinto – and BCL belong RTZ – in riotinto’s, and Australia’s, colonial era (as in, just the other day, and ongoing) adventure in PNG = Papua New Guinea (note also: Bougainville aka Autonomous Bougainville, AKA Mekamui)…

The Evidence of BCL’s role in the Bougainville Conflict: A Reluctant Response to Axel G. Sturm’s Open Letter

April 26th 2012

The Evidence of BCL’s role in the Bougainville Conflict: A Reluctant Response to Axel G. Sturm’s Open Letter

Posted by Effrey

By Dr Kristian Lasslett*

On the 23rd of April 2012, Act Now posted a blog I had written on BCL and the Bougainville conflict. It was a critical but hopefully constructive piece, on how BCL might mend certain bridges with communities on Bougainville, using fairly orthodox transitional justice techniques. It was not a new argument, indeed the distinguished ANU scholar John Braithwaite wrote in 2011: “Reconciliation between the mining company, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, and Bougainvilleans is yet to be achieved. An obstacle here is that the company fears ritual apology would expose it to liability in the courts. Yet this reconciliation to some extent holds a key to international reconciliation among Bougainville, Australia and Papua New Guinea”.

In response to my article the President of the European Shareholders of Bougainville Copper composed an open letter addressed to me. This letter included comments that bordered on the slanderous. In particular Axel G Sturm argued:

Your disgraceful lampoon is remarkable. It’s really shameful if an expert in criminology completely ignores facts and reality. Your naive adoption of statements and claims from rebel groups on the ground disqualify you as an honest scientist…I suppose your work in Ulster [Northern Ireland], a region well known for rebellion and organised crime, troubled your vision…Unfortunately you are also allowed to spread your ideas among you students. You shall not use your academic position as a platform for indoctrination and agitation. (emphasis added)

I took it from Mr Sturm’s statement, he had not bothered to familiarise himself with my research on the Bougainville conflict. Had he, Mr Sturm would have discovered that my findings are based upon interviews with General Managers and three Managing Directors who steered BCL during the 1987-1991 period. These interviews were triangulated through extensive documentary research, using internal BCL records including meeting minutes and company memorandums (these documents became available following two court cases involving BCL and its parent company). I also interviewed senior state officials in Papua New Guinea, including the former Prime Minister Sir Rabbie Namaliu (1988-1992), and senior military officers involved in the operations on Bougainville.

I remained somewhat aloof during the controversy elicited by an SBS report in June 2011, as I feel my research speaks for itself – on reflection, I perhaps erred in not correcting factual inaccuracies that were subsequently reported in the media (see Callick 2011). However, in light of recent personal attacks on my credibility as a researcher and scholar, I feel compelled to summarise the empirical evidence on which my recent suggestions were based.

1.    BCL placed substantive pressure on the Papua New Guinea government to send the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary Mobile Squads – a paramilitary style force, who according to their own commanders excel in the use of terror (RPNGC Assistant Commissioner, Personal Communication, 2006) – to Bougainville in 1988, following attacks on mine property by a landowner group. They made this request in full knowledge of the Mobile Squads’ chequered human rights record. As one General Manager informed me: “We knew the riot squads were heavy handed, that was well known in PNG. That’s how they worked. If you threw a rock at them you would get ten rocks thrown back. They were very heavy handed in the way they handled disputes in the Highlands…It was a case, somebody has to come. They were the only ones that could come, and put a lid on this thing before it got out of hand” (Personal Communication, 2006). The Mobile Squads were responsible for numerous atrocities on Bougainville during 1989-1990.

2.    When Prime Minister Namaliu opted to send a peace delegation to Bougainville to resolve the impasse with landowners in December 1988, BCL’s Chairman – who was also an executive at Conzinc Rio Tinto Australia (CRA) – threatened to withdraw all CRA investments from Papua New Guinea. In a memorandum dated 6 December 1988 he recounts his reaction to the Prime Minister’s proposal: “The PM’s priority was to ‘appease’ the landowners. I expressed the view that CRA would want to review its assessment of PNG as a place to invest. In all, it was an unsatisfactory meeting”. At the time CRA was investing heavily in mineral projects at Hidden Valley in Morobe, and Mount Klare in Enga (Post-Courier, 29/11/1988; Business Review Weekly, 9/6/1989).

3.    When Mobile Squad units and Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) soldiers arrived on Bougainville during December 1988 and early 1989, BCL gave the security forces access to company assets. A BCL General Manager from the period recalls: “We did everything they asked of us to make their life more comfortable, and better able to manage through, with transport, communications, provisions, whatever, fuel. You know we gave them everything, because as a far as we saw it we were hoping that they were going to solve the situation, so we could start operating again. So we supported them every way we could” (Personal Communication, 2006). This claim was confirmed by a senior civil servant who was working in Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister’s department:  “We relied heavily on some of the civilian facilities provided by the company. They did everything, I mean we spent lots and lots of money, to provide backup support services for the operation. But the defense force was not properly equipped at all” (Personal Communication, 2006). I have found no evidence to suggest BCL were forced by the PNG government to make this contribution.

4.    BCL regularly met with military commanders from the PNGDF and senior Cabinet figures. During these meetings security force operations were discussed in detail.  For example, BCL was informed by the Minister of State that the security forces were planning to use “brutal firepower” to resolve the situation on Bougainville. This is evidenced in meeting minutes dated 8 June 1989. BCL did not alert the domestic or international community of the impeding humanitarian crisis.

5.    BCL meeting minutes evidence the fact that during 1989 the company’s Managing Director provided strategic input to PNGDF commanders and government officials on security force offensive operations.

6.    BCL was aware of the illicit tactics being employed by the government’s security forces, yet still availed company assets to the PNGDF and RPNGC. For example, the company’s charitable arm – the Bougainville Copper Foundation (BCF) – had surveyed homes lost to village burnings, which were conducted en masse by the Mobile Squads and the PNGDF during 1989. A BCF official informed me that during a security operation in March/April 1989, “forty, fifty villages, and the crops [were destroyed]. The villages were varying from five or six houses to twenty or thirty houses” (Personal Communication, 2006).

7.    There is evidence to suggest BCL’s Managing Director did raise concerns with PNGDF officers over the loss of civilian life. Nevertheless, the company continued to provide material assistance to the security forces.

8.    Allegations have been made that BCL’s Chairman supported the military blockade which was placed around Bougainville during 1990 – this blockade included the denial of humanitarian aid. In particular, the former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister (1988-1992) of Papua New Guinea, Sir Michael Somare, alleges that the Chairman stated lets “starve the bastards out”. Sadly the Chairman has passed away, and I have not been able to confirm the veracity of this particular allegation. However, I was told by a senior BCL executive that the company was supportive of the blockade for two reasons: “One was the ability of the militants to get more weapons to increase the level of their militancy. And the second was that there was always these threats that they were going to sell off the mine equipment” (Personal Communication, 2006).

Of course, I can only hint here at the evidence collected over several years of doctoral research. Moreover, in a blog post, it is clearly impossible to add more context, which would help readers understand some of the complex factors influencing BCL’s decisions.

Though in light of the above, I would suggest – to borrow the words of Mr Sturm – it was in fact those scholars and journalists that rejected the allegations made against BCL by landowners and activists who might be accused of being “naive”, after all accessible documentary evidence on BCL’s involvement has been available since 1990 (following a Supreme Court of Victoria court case involving BCL and their insurers – BCL records are also stored in an archive at the University of Melbourne and may be viewed upon request).

Nevertheless, it is not my intention to vilify BCL. They operated the Panguna mine for 17 years, and many scholars and journalists have written quite favourable pieces on their corporate record during this period. My specific claims relate to a small window in the company’s life, 1988-1990, where decisions were taken that implicated BCL in the hostilities, and the human rights abuses they generated.

Clearly it is up to the people of Bougainville to decide how they wish to manage their natural resources. However, democratic decision making about the future depends upon accurate knowledge of the past. In this respect, BCL can make an important contribution to democracy and reconciliation in Bougainville by, a) fully disclosing their role in the conflict; and b) making amends with those affected by their actions.

I am more than happy to engage in further probing dialogue with anyone who cares to comment; but I will not react to any further personal attacks, or ill informed judgements on the rigour of my research. I consider that issue now resolved.

*Kristian Lasslett is a Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Ulster and he sits on the Executive Board of the International State Crime Initiative.

Guardian – corruption, diamonds, Hazare… tigers… toxic… : ‘Rio Tinto, which is investing £292m on what it calls the Bunder project, vehemently denies that the mine has anything to do with Masood’s murder’

Shehla Masood battled corruption in India. Was that why she was killed?

The shooting of a prominent activist was ‘unfortunate’, says a minister. But her friends suspect that she knew too much to live

Shehla Masood

A family photograph of Shehla Masood, who was campaigning against plans to open a mine when she was killed.

For many of her 38 years, Shehla Masood had campaigned tirelessly against corruption. Glamorous and combative, she had embraced India‘s Right to Information Act with gusto, rattling out applications in all directions, exposing wrongdoing at the highest levels of Madhya Pradesh state where she lived, upsetting many powerful people with a great deal to lose. Judges, police and politicians from the local ruling BJP party had all come into her sights and been exposed for misusing public cash.

In recent months, she had turned her attention to mining conglomerate Rio Tinto‘s plans to extract 37 million tonnes of diamond-bearing ore from land in one of the finest strands of teak forest in the country.

Then, on 16 August, Shehla was found dead in her car outside her home in a prosperous area of Bhopal, with a single gunshot to her neck. More than a month later, the investigation has hit a brick wall. Even the offer of a £7,500 reward – an enormous sum for India – has failed to elicit a single witness to a killing that took place in broad daylight in a busy street.

It is Tuesday morning in that same respectable street in Bhopal. A large khaki tent is pitched opposite Shehla’s house. Four police officers, posted to guard her family, sprawl inside on charpoys, fast asleep. The road leads to a large slum, whose residents pass regularly in front of the house, much as they must have done on the morning she died.

It was Shehla’s father, Sultan Masood, who found her lying with her head back in the front seat of her little silver Hyundai Santro car. “I called: ‘Shehla, Shehla’, but she didn’t speak. I took some water and splashed it on her face and then her dupatta [scarf] slipped down and I noticed the black hole in her neck. I started screaming: ‘Somebody has killed my daughter, someone has shot my daughter.'”

It is almost inconceivable that no one saw the killer or heard the shot, but Shehla’s fate appears to have been a warning to others to keep silent.

For Shehla, though, silence was never an option. In the past few months, she had targeted Rio Tinto’s diamond plans. Environmentalists feared that the mine project in Chhatarpur district – inaugurated by the chief minister in 2009 – threatened the watershed of Panna Tiger Reserve and the Shyamri river.

In a letter to India’s home minister in July, she wrote: “The Rio Tinto company began exploring in this eco-sensitive zone before being granted government permission. The officials who objected have been transferred from their positions.”

The high court of Madhya Pradesh had already ordered the national and state governments to explain why mining had been permitted, according to the petition, “in gross violation of rules and regulations”.

Shehla planned to launch her own legal challenge and had started to file right-to-information applications to gather evidence.

Shehla’s younger sister, Ayesha, has returned from the US, where she is studying microbiology, and has been trying to make sense of what happened, ploughing through her computer hard drive, digging out her correspondence, looking for a clue. Sitting in the living room of the elegantly furnished, two-storey family home, the 34-year-old said: “She told a friend who met her five days before her death that she had information that would shake the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh to its core.”

Ayesha Masood fears the killing is linked to those who stood to gain from the deal with Rio Tinto. Gopal Krishna, founder of the Delhi-based ToxicsWatch Alliance, had been working with Shehla in the weeks before her death. He said she had just started making fresh right-to-information applications and planned to launch her own public-interest challenge to the mine in the high court.

Vinita Deshmukh, a journalist and activist who has followed the case closely, said: “It was more convenient and more economical perhaps to snuff out the life of Shehla. Money and power almost always overpower the laws of this country, especially when it comes to big projects that generally throw up lucrative commissions and kickbacks to officers and elected representatives.”

Madhya Pradesh’s home minister, Uma Shankar Gupta, dismissed such suggestions. It was “unfortunate” that she was killed, he said, but no one in government wanted her dead: there were plenty of more capable right-to-information activists and nothing had happened to them.

As for the Rio Tinto mine, it could not possibly be illegal, he said: “If the chief minister went over and inaugurated it, it has to be legal.”

Rio Tinto, which is investing £292m on what it calls the Bunder project, vehemently denies that the mine has anything to do with Masood’s murder.

A spokesman said: “Rio Tinto started exploring for minerals in India in 1996 after the sector was opened for foreign direct investment. In 2004, Rio Tinto made news across the world with the discovery of significant diamond deposits at the Bunder project in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh. We are currently at the evaluation stage and doing detailed studies while our application for a mining lease is pending with the government of India. We have a very strict, transparent ethics policy that is uncompromising no matter where we operate.

“We learned through the media of the shocking death of Ms Masood, for which we extend our sympathy to her family and friends. We join with the community of Bhopal in condemning such acts of violence and the loss of life.

“We cannot understand why our name is bring linked with this tragedy. We never met nor had any contact with Ms Masood and are unaware of any communication she had with the ministry of environment and forest. We have had no communication with the CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation] so are unaware of any details about the investigation.”

The man in charge of the murder inquiry, Deputy Inspector General Hemant Priyadarshy, thinks it was a professional job. All the possible motives are being considered, he said. “We are speaking to everyone. Nobody is outside the reach of the law.”

His job would be simpler had Shehla chosen to tackle fewer establishment figures. “I fear for my life,” she said in an interview a month before her death. “But I will continue working and carry on … It is the nexus between politicians and babus [officials] which is slowly poisoning our country. The fight is between the powerful and weak and I represent the weakest and the poorest of society.”

The day she died she was due to pick up the responses to a right-to-information request on judges’ expenditure, before addressing a rally in support of national anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare’s hunger strike (she was his campaign organiser in the state) and inviting people to name and shame corrupt politicians and officials. She was winning praise from the national BJP party in Delhi through her close friendship with one of its MPs, Tarun Vijay, but that only seemed to breed jealousy and fear of her influence in the local party. Someone was spreading rumours that Shehla, a Muslim who also worked as an events organiser, was a spy for Pakistan. And then there was her acrimonious dispute with a senior police officer, whom she had accused of corruption.

Ayesha Masood sits in the living room, rattling through the list. She seems uncertain where to turn next, unsure that the police will crack the case, seeing the reward as a sign of desperation. The family demanded the local police be taken off the investigation after they initially concluded that Shehla had shot herself, despite no weapon being found at the scene. They are happier now that the CBI is in charge, but still she doubts that they will get justice. “If highly influential people are involved, India is very good at sacrificing its own citizens,” she said.

There is no doubt that Shehla made many enemies during her years of anti-corruption activism. The identity of her killer may prove elusive for some time to come.

The blacklisting of Rio Tinto – NAJ Taylor

The blacklisting of Rio Tinto

Too many invest in companies – such as Australia’s Rio Tinto – without any consideration of the ethics of doing so.

NAJ Taylor Last Modified: 12 Sep 2011 12:24

 

 

Papuans protest against Freeport and Rio Tinto’s Grasberg mine outside of Freeport’s office in Jakarta [EPA]

[This is the first of four pieces examining Rio Tinto and mining in Indonesia's West Papua province]

Investing in conflict-affected and high-risk areas is a growing concern for responsible businesses and investors. Often times companies based in developed countries operate in lesser-developed, foreign markets, where governance standards are lax, corruption is high and business practices are poor.

These pieces focus on one specific Anglo-Australian company that operates in West Papua, one of the poorest provinces of Indonesia. The risks for the company include the potential to contribute to environmental and social damage in a foreign market. The risks for investors include financing a company that does not get its risk management right. This is the story of how the Norwegian Pension Fund blacklisted Rio Tinto.

An ancient copper mine located near Huelva in southernmost Spain changed hands in 1873. A group of opportunistic Anglo-German investors, equipped with modern techniques that favored mining aboveground, acquired it from the Spanish government. The mine’s copper had stained the surrounding water to such an extent that the indigenes named the river Rio Tinto – literally meaning “red river”.

The mine at Rio Tinto had supplied the Phoenicians, ancient Greeks, Carthaginians, and the Roman Empire. Its copper had paid for Carthage’s numerous wars on Rome and had been held by both Scipio and Hannibal. We can only assume that these investors, aware of such indelible marks on the environment and history, missed the irony, because they named their company Rio Tinto.

However, the red river has since flowed a long way from home. The company has expanded its operations through Australia, North and South America, Asia, Europe, and southern Africa – across coal, aluminum, copper, diamonds, uranium, gold, industrial minerals, and iron ore. Rio Tinto is now so large that its dual listing on the Australian and London stock exchanges commands a value of over $100bn.

What’s left behind near the Spanish town of Huelva is a 58-mile-long river flowing through one of the world’s largest deposits of pyrite, or fool’s gold. Because of the mine, the river has a pH reading similar to that of automobile battery acid and contains virtually no oxygen in its lower depths. In the late 1980s, temporary flooding dissolved a power substation, a mandibular crusher, and several hundred yards of transport belts.

More recently, NASA astrobiologists used the conditions of the river to replicate the conditions of Mars. “If you remove the green,” one of them remarked, “it looks like Mars”. The thinking goes that if something could live in such an acidic river, then there is likely to be life on Mars too.

Every Australian – through public monies invested by elected governments, or their choice of superannuation fund, insurer, and bank – is funding this red river now too. Rio Tinto is so large and so profitable that, for the average Australian, investment in it is very near unavoidable.

Blacklisted

On September 9, 2008, amid the turmoil of the global financial crisis, the Norwegian government announced that it had liquidated its entire $1bn investment in Rio Tinto for “grossly unethical conduct”. Operating the second largest fund in the world, the Norwegians’ decision focused solely on the Grasberg mine in West Papua on New Guinea, which it believed posed the “unacceptable risk” of contributing to “severe environmental damage” if it were to continue funding the Anglo-Australian mining giant.

Rio Tinto had been blacklisted.

The following day, Rio Tinto’s official statement relayed that the company was “surprised and disappointed”, given both its recognised leadership in environmental sustainability and its noncontrolling interest in the Grasberg mine. As with most claims of sustainability, the truth is otherwise.

Rio Tinto should not have been surprised by the Norwegian stance on Grasberg. Records show that there had been months – in fact, years – of dialogue with the Norwegians about Grasberg’s inadequate environmental and social performance. Rio Tinto had faced a litany of signposts indicating that multinational and Indonesian involvement in West Papua was not meeting various standards, laws, and norms: Institutions such as the World Bank, the Australian Council for Overseas Aid, the International Finance Corporation, the Overseas Private Investment Commission, the United Nations Committee against Torture, the US State Department, and the Indonesian Environment Ministry, as well as many US and European politicians, independent environmental assessments, international media, Papuan leaders, civil society groups, and shareholders had brought the problems to Rio Tinto’s attention.

That an institutional investor should act on environmental, social, and corporate governance considerations is a newly evolving development within the global investment industry, and one in which many Australian institutional investors and service providers have been quick to claim leadership. However, the blacklisting of Rio Tinto by the Norwegian government was uniquely public, transparent, and forward-thinking. Yet this wholesale dumping of one of Australia’s blue-chip stocks received only syndicated coverage in the local media.

Behind the headlines of the global financial crisis is a deeper, more systemic fault line that rewards rampant capitalism. Too many invest in and operate mines such as Grasberg without any consideration of the ethics of so doing.

Part 2 to follow next week.

This is an extract of a chapter from the book, Evolutions in Sustainable Investing: Strategies, Funds and Thought Leadership, to be published by Wiley in December 2011.

Follow NAJ Taylor on Twitter: @najtaylordotcom

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/08/2011823133628702154.html

Mr Pip

Radio New Zealand, 26 July 2010

Hopes Mister Pip movie will be filmed on Bougainville

Posted at 03:32 on 26 July, 2010 UTC
An actor and dramatist in Papua New Guinea says many locals are hoping the film, Mister Pip, to be shot on location in Bougainville.
Auditions for the roles have begun in Solomon Islands, before heading to Port Moresby and Bougainville.
The film, based on an award winning book of the same name by New Zealand author Lloyd Jones, is set in 1991 during the decade-long Bougainville conflict.
William Takaku is helping to organise the PNG auditions, and says it will depend on the film’s budget as to whether it will be filmed on Bougainville, but he and many other locals remain hopeful.
“I hope that the movie, because its a story about Bougainville, its not going to be authentic if it is filmed in any other place rather than Bougainville. So I hope that the film’s decision will eventually be made for it to be made here on Bougainville.”
William Takaku says there’s already much excitement about the film’s potential to draw attention to Bougainville and its people.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International
PO Box 123, Wellington, New Zealand

http://www.rnzi.com/pages/news.php?op=read&id=54918

Polluters Riotinto

ABC TV – Lateline, 14 June 2010

Abandoned mine threatens environmental disaster

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 14/06/2010

Reporter: Liam Fox

The Australian owners of an abandoned mine in Bougainville say it is too dangerous to return to repair leaking fuel tanks.

Transcript

LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: It’s been 20 years since a bloody civil war forced the closure of the Panguna copper mine on the island of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea.

The mine’s infrastructure has been slowly decaying ever since.

The fuel tanks that fed Panguna’s power station are now leaking oil not far from the sea.

Some are warning of an impending environmental disaster but the mine’s Australian owner says it’s only a minor spill.

It wants to return to Bougainville to clean up but says it can’t because the island is still too dangerous for its workers.

PNG correspondent Liam Fox reports.

LIAM FOX, PNG CORRESPONDENT: Deep in the Bougainville jungle are the remains of what was one of the world’s biggest copper mines. Panguana is now a wasteland of rusting equipment and dilapidated buildings. Operations ground to a halt 20 years ago when the resentment felt by local landowners towards the mine sparked a decade-long civil war. Thousands died during the crisis and the mine has been slowly decaying ever since.

It’s a similar story on the coast at Panguna’s old power station. These fuel tanks haven’t been maintained for two decades. Now they’re leaking oil, lots of it and it could get worse.

RON BLENKIRON, SOUTH PACIFIC ENVIRONMENTAL: There’s a crack down through there. This is about a 20 mill thick at the bottom, but these cracks will still open up in an earthquake.

LIAM FOX: Thick, heavy fuel oil coats the ground. A black lake lies next to the tanks. From here, it’s only a stone’s throw to the ocean. This pit only metres from the water is the last barrier preventing oil from leaking into the sea.

RON BLENKIRON: During the wet season when we first came here, this pit was basically full of water and the oil was about 50 mill from running into the sea, so it was pretty close. You’re living on the edge of a catastrophe here the whole time. It’s pretty nasty stuff.

LIAM FOX: Ron Blenkiron from South Pacific Environmental says the leaking oil isn’t the only potential hazard here, up the road are the remains of a storage area for chemicals used in the mining process.

RON BLENKIRON: We won’t take you any further into there, but these are really nasty stuff. You can’t go in there without full breathing apparatus and chem suits. This is really nasty.

LIAM FOX: Mr Blenkiron has written to the mines, Australian owner Bougainville Copper Limited or BCL, and offered to clean it up. For a price of course, but BCL has declined.

RON BLENKIRON: I believe that BCL is morally responsible to clean up.

LIAM FOX: Steven Tibo is working for South Pacific Environmental and the company it’s formed with some local landowners.

STEVEN TIBO, SOUTH PACIFIC ENVIRONMENTAL: My people we live on the coast, marine life, so this oil is a concern.

LIAM FOX: But back in Port Moresby, BCL isn’t so worried.

PETER TAYLOR, BOUGAINVILLE COPPER LTD CHAIRMAN: There is what I call a relatively minor oil spill that’s been contained by the safety systems that were put in place, the bund. And really it seems to me it’s just a case of going and cleaning that up.

LIAM FOX: Bougainville Copper says vandals caused the spill and much of the oil has already been stolen. It says New Zealand peacekeepers removed any toxic chemicals from the area in 1997. The company says it wants to clean up the spill, but more than a decade after the war ended, it still believes Bougainville is not safe for its employees.

PETER TAYLOR: Unfortunately, there are few people, and I think they’re now well and truly in the minority, who refuse to allow us access and some of these people unfortunately have got guns.

LIAM FOX: So why not use South Pacific Environmental, who are already on the ground?

PETER TAYLOR: We have done some research to try and find out what their credentials are and as far as I can see, they have no experience in actually doing any sort of environmental remediation work.

LIAM FOX: Bougainville Copper is hoping to return soon and clean up the mess itself. The historic hatred local villagers felt towards Panguana is dissipating. Many now want the mine reopened to fund their long-held desire for independence from PNG.

CHRIS DAMANA, PANGUNA LAND OWNERS ASSOCIATION: We want Bougainville to get its own money, find its own funds and to run its own affairs.

PETER TAYLOR: The landowners are now approaching the company saying, ‘We’d like you to come back.’

LIAM FOX: It might not be too long before BCL is back in Bougainville.

Liam Fox Lateline.

http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2010/s2926799.htm

= = = = = = = = =
Australian company blamed for oil spill

By PNG correspondent Liam Fox

Posted Mon Jun 14, 2010 9:21pm AEST

Audio: Oil spill in Bouganville linked to Australian owned copper mine (PM)
As oil continues to spew into the Gulf of Mexico, there are fears about the potential for another smaller spill in Papua New Guinea.

Two big oil tanks are leaking heavy fuel oil close to the sea on the island of Bougainville.

The tanks used to fuel the massive Panguna copper mine before it was abandoned more than 20 years ago because of a bloody civil war.

The mine’s Australian owner says it wants to clean up the leaks, but Bougainville is still too dangerous for its workers to return.

It has been more than 20 years since the two large fuel tanks at the port of Loloho on Bougainville’s east coast had any maintenance.

Back then, the resentment local landowners felt towards the Panguna copper mine sparked a decade long-civil war that forced the mine’s closure.

Now the tanks are leaking and the ground around them is coated in thick heavy fuel oil.

A black lake lies between the tanks and there are fears it could get worse.

“There’s a faint crack down through there,” said Ron Blenkiron from South Pacific Environmental, a company that wants to clean up the leak.

“This is about 20 mil thick at the bottom here but these cracks will still open up in an earthquake or anything serious like that, so it’s definitely an issue.”

The tanks are only a stone’s throw from the ocean and Mr Blenkiron says the system put in place to contain leaks has broken down.

An oil-soaked pit, just metres from the water, is the last barrier preventing the fuel from leaking into the sea.

“During the wet season, when we first came here, this pit was basically full of water and the oil was about 50 mils from running into the sea, so it was pretty close,” Mr Blenkiron said.

“You’re living on the edge of a catastrophe here.”

More mess

Mr Blenkiron says the oil is not the only potential hazard left behind when the mine was abandoned in the late 1980s.

A few hundred metres up the road are the rusting remains of a storage area for chemicals used in the mining process.

Mr Blenkiron has written to the mine’s Australian owner, Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL), and offered to clean up the area for a price.

But BCL has declined.

“I believe that BCL is morally responsible to clean up,” Mr Blenkiron said.

“I mean, sure they may have got chased out of here rightly or wrongly a number of years ago but there’s no danger in coming down here. The people are welcoming. They’re easy to work with.”

BCL’s chairman Peter Taylor, based in Port Moresby, does not believe the leaking tanks pose a danger to the environment.

“There’s no disaster there,” he said.

“There is what I call a relatively minor oil spill that’s been contained by the safety systems that were put in place. And really it seems to me it’s just a case of going in and cleaning that up.”

Mr Taylor says vandals caused the leaks and most of the oil has already been stolen.

He rejects the claim there is other toxic chemicals in the area, saying New Zealand peacekeepers assessed the port in 1997 and removed anything dangerous.

Dangerous region

Mr Taylor says BCL wants to clean up the spill, but more than a decade after the civil war ended, he believes Bougainville is still not safe for his employees.

“Unfortunately there are a few people, and I think they’re now well and truly in the minority who refuse to allow us access and some of these people unfortunately have got guns,” Mr Taylor said.

There is no doubt law and order is still a problem in Bougainville.

Twice this year foreign ships have docked at Loloho without customs clearance and pumped oil out of the tanks, without approval from BCL.

There are also plenty of guns on the island that are yet to be disposed of in line with the Bougainville Peace Agreement that ended the civil war.

So why doesn’t BCL use South Pacific Environmental, who are already on the ground, to clean up the leak?

“We’ve done some research to try and find out what their credentials are and as far as I can see they have no experience in actually doing any sort of environmental remediation work,” Mr Taylor said.

Mr Taylor is hopeful BCL will be able to return to the island soon, not only to clean up but also to resume mining.

“The landowners are now approaching the company and saying ‘we’d like you to come back, we’d like you to do various things including the remediation of anything that might be in any way dangerous’,” he said.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/06/14/2926743.htm?section=business

Rally Against RIOTINTO in Sydney 20 May 2010

CHINA IS CRACKING DOWN ON
PRIVATE SECTOR CORPORATE
GREED AND CORRUPTION!
IT’S TIME THAT HAPPENS HERE!
.
Rio Tinto’s obscenely rich bosses are notorious for attacking trade unions, trampling on Aboriginal rights and plundering the wealth of peoples in the “Third World.” And they are used to getting away with it! However, since the Peoples of Republic of China (PRC) jailed four Rio Tinto executives for bribery and stealing information from the PRC’s public sector, Australia’s corporate high fliers and their parliamentary servants are in a bit of a spin. Why? Because someone has finally stood up to Rio’s bosses. For our part, let’s use China’s robust prosecution of the Rio bosses to publicise the nasty methods used by big business owners in their drive to exploit more and more wealth from the toiling masses. Now that we have seen that a serious force is willing to take on Rio’s bigwigs, let’s take up the offensive here against the anti-worker attacks and unrestrained greed of all the big corporate bullies.
STOP RIO TINTO’S
PLUNDERING & UNION BUSTING

RALLY AT 5PM,
Thursday May 20
Outside Rio Tinto’s Sydney Office,
19-29 Martin Place
(Cnr Castlereagh Street, same building as the US Consulate)
SPEAKERS INCLUDE:
-JOANNE DATERANSI, PRESIDENT OF THE MEKAMUI/BOUGAINVILLE INDIGENOUS WOMEN LANDOWNERS ASSOCIATION
- DENIS DOHERTY, NATIONAL ORGANISER, COMMUNIST PARTY OF AUSTRALIA
- YURI GROMOV, EDITOR, TROTSKYIST PLATFORM
For information call 0417 204 611
When in the 1960s Aboriginal people in the Cape York objected to a Rio Tinto subsidiary’s failure to offer decent compensation for building a bauxite mine on their land, Rio worked with the Queensland cops to have the entire Aboriginal community of Mapoon arrested and their whole town burnt down. In the late 1980s when the people of the PNG island of Bougainville rose up to resist the way that the Australian arm of Rio (then called CRA) was operating its huge Panguna copper mine without any regard to the local people, the PNG government and its masters in Canberra waged a brutal war and blockade against the Bougainville people. As a result 15,000 Bougainvilleans perished – all for the sake of Rio’s profits. Then in the 1990s Rio Tinto used intimidation, spied on union activists and bribed workers to leave unions so as to drive out trade union influence from iron ore mines and other mining sectors in Australia. They are still at it today! Rio has been arrogantly resisting calls to negotiate a union collective agreement with ore train drivers in the Pilbara. Meanwhile, on January 31, Rio Tinto locked out 560 U.S. miners in Boron, California who had refused to accept a new contract that would casualise the workforce, impose involuntary overtime etc. Rio brought in scabs protected by armed private security guards and government riot cops. Rio bosses are used to having state forces enforce their will. So they got an awful shock when four of their multi- millionaire executives were arrested for corruption and plunder of public property in the PRC (China). You see, in the PRC, the state is not run for the sake of the Rio Tinto bigwigs and their mates. Australia’s pro-capitalist politicians have made out that the jailing of the Rio high fliers was simply about a commercial dispute between Rio and Chinese steel corporations. However, while Rio is dominated by rich owners, China’s steel companies, like all its biggest corporations, are socialistic state-owned enterprises that belong to all of its people. When Rio bosses rip off such companies they are stealing from 1.3 billion people! In contrast, when Rio makes a grotesque profit then that brings little benefit to its workers. Take the year 2008, for instance. Despite paying themselves lavish executive salaries and over $2.6 billion to shareholders for the year’s
dividends, Rio bosses announced in December 2008 that the company would slash its workforce by 14,000. The mainstream media here have tried to portray the Rio Tinto prosecutions as a case of China picking on foreign companies. Yet the PRC is in the midst of a wave of arrests of local corporate figures and high-ranking officials and politicians for plundering public assets. Soon after the Rio Tinto executives were formally indicted in February, China’s (now ex-) richest man Huang Guangyu was also charged with serious economic crimes. Meanwhile, thousands of notoriously unsafe privately-owned coal mines have been forcibly nationalised leading to significant reductions in workplace deaths. Moves to shore up publicly-owned property in China should be welcomed by Australian working class people. Furthermore, the Shanghai convictions have added significance here. For they not only publicise the devious methods of Rio’s bosses but they also prove that these powerful capitalists are not invincible. Encouraged by this, here are some things that we should be fighting for and proclaiming here:
  • Open all of Rio Tinto’s books and those of other corporate giants to inspection by unions – Expose all
  • corruption, hiring of anti-union outfits and bribery of community leaders. Down with the Fair Work Act
  • restrictions on union rights to inspection of company documents!
  • Force Rio Tinto to accept union agreements with workers in all key sites.
  • Smash Rio Tinto’s union-busting actions in Boron, California! Victory to the Boron mine workers!
  • Ban any company that can pay any of its executives or owners more than $300,000 in annual renumeration
  • or dividends from laying off any workers.
  • Stop Rio Tinto, BHP, Xstrata etc from trampling on Aboriginal land rights.
  • For Rio Tinto to pay out the compensation demanded by Bougainville people in a current U.S. court case for
  • Rio’s crimes against humanity and racial discrimination in connection with the Panguna mine.
  • Extradite to China the Australian-based Rio bosses whose office was proven to be responsible both for
  • receiving the secrets stolen by Stern Hu and for further encouraging his corrupt activities.
  • Thank you Peoples Republic for standing up to the Rio Tinto corporate thugs. But go further – Expose more
  • fully the role of Australian-based Rio Tinto executives in the corruption!

CHINA IS CRACKING DOWN ONPRIVATE SECTOR CORPORATEGREED AND CORRUPTION!IT’S TIME THAT HAPPENS HERE!  Rio Tinto’s obscenely rich bosses are notorious for attacking trade unions, trampling on Aboriginal rights and plundering the wealth of peoples in the “Third World.” And they are used to getting away with it! However, since the Peoples of Republic of China (PRC) jailed four Rio Tinto executives for bribery and stealing information from the PRC’s public sector, Australia’s corporate high fliers and their parliamentary servants are in a bit of a spin. Why? Because someone has finally stood up to Rio’s bosses. For our part, let’s use China’s robust prosecution of the Rio bosses to publicise the nasty methods used by bigbusiness owners in their drive to exploit more and more wealth from the toiling masses.  Now that we have seen that a serious force is willing to take on Rio’s bigwigs, let’s take up the offensive here against the anti-worker attacks and unrestrained greed of all the big corporate bullies.

Panguna

Report from the Rio Tinto AGM in London on 15 April 2010

Panguna Mine, Bougainville
Clive Porabou from Bougainville said that the company’s BCL subsidiary had caused massive destruction to land in Bougainville and its operations had led to a war which had cost 20,000 lives. A court case had been brought against the company in the USA. Would the company compensate the people of Bougainville for the destruction it had caused? BCL was now trying to go back in and reopen the mine, which would repeat the whole process. Would Rio Tinto warn them of the dangers of doing so?
Jan du Plessis said that the company had not operated in Bougainville since 1989. When it did operate, it employed 2800 people and contributed 10% of Papua New Guinea’s GDP. In 2001 a peace agreement was signed between the PNG Government and the separatists. The company understands that it cannot recommence operations without proper consultation with the stakeholders.
Tom Albanese said that the company respects the long-term peace process and the actions of the Government of Bougainville, the landholders and the Government of Papua New Guinea.
It is noteworthy that neither the Chairman nor the CEO commented on the lawsuit brought against the company in the USA.

See the full report at http://londonminingnetwork.org/2010/04/report-on-the-london-agm-of-rio-tinto-15-april-2010/

Sent down – riotinto

Riotinto cowboys locked up by a Chinese court, the ringleader gets ten years. I think i’ll send a postcard.

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – A Shanghai court on Monday sentenced a Chinese-Australian executive of Rio Tinto to 7 years in prison on Monday on charges of accepting bribes and 5 years on charges of stealing commercial secrets.

The Shanghai Intermediate People’s Court said Stern Hu, who headed Rio Tinto’s iron ore operations in China, will serve 10 years, with part of the sentences running concurrently, and will also be fined 500,000 yuan ($73,250), and have 500,000 yuan worth of assets confiscated.

Three other Rio executives, all Chinese nationals, were also sentenced to between 7 and 14 years in prison on bribery and secrets charges.

The court said the infringement of commercial secrets caused a great loss to Chinese steel mills, putting them in a disadvantageous position in iron ore pricing talks.

More here.

Avatar and Bougainville??

Avatar and Bougainville: A Parallel History? « Tubuans.

http://www.criticaltimes.com.au/news/international/avatars-secret-history-lesson-on-our-doorstep/

http://www.face21cn.cn/renleixue/anthropology/article-Avatar-pop-culture-anthropology-ethic.html

http://savageminds.org/2009/12/24/avatar/

http://itsgettinghotinhere.org/2010/02/23/james-cameron-the-oscars-and-the-real-life-avatar/

Riotinto deserves the pain

riotintoI’ve posted several times before on the many crimes of Riotinto – bunkered down in their London headquarters (formerly 6 St James Square, now 2 Eastbourne Terrace), they plunder the world with near impunity, though Partizans, Minewatch and this bunch of activist-lawyers (below) are keen to dent their stock. Oh, and the Chinese deal went comically wrong which was also entertaining. None of this is sufficient yet, but the long arm of legalese may still raise a few bucks compensation for Bougainville. Have a look at the RTZ brochures/website on a quiet day if you ever feel the need to get incensed about something – they hand them out at the office (reminder 2 Eastbourne Terrace, near paddington). Here is the latest from the lefty-legal firm:

Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro: Plaintiffs Celebrate as Rio Tinto Loses

August 3, 2009 6:52 PM EDT

SEATTLE, Aug. 3 /PRNewswire/ — The United States Federal Court again rejected arguments from Rio Tinto (NYSE: RTP) late last week, in a massive human rights claim brought by South Pacific islanders claiming the world’s largest mining company conspired with the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) in crimes against humanity, racial discrimination and war crimes.

In the most recent ruling, Judge Margaret M. Morrow held that the heinous nature of the allegations led to the court’s conclusion not to impose an “exhaustion requirement” with respect to the claims.

An exhaustion requirement would require the Court to explore the possibility of dismissing the case in the United States, leaving plaintiffs to start the legal process all over again in Papua New Guinea.

“Rio Tinto has tried every possible stalling tactic to prolong the case,” said Steve Berman, lead attorney and managing partner at Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro. “Now that the court has rejected Rio’s arguments again, we’re eager to move this case forward so that the people of PNG can receive the justice they deserve.”

The case, originally filed in 2000 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, seeks to represent Bougainville island residents exposed to toxins resulting from Rio Tinto mine operations and those who were injured or killed during the political and social conflict between Rio Tinto and PNG citizens, which began in 1989 and raged until 1999.

Rio Tinto has argued for years that despite the Alien Tort Claims Act explicitly stating that foreign nationals can bring suit in the United States against companies that violate international law, plaintiffs in the Rio Tinto case should not be allowed to do so. Rio Tinto is the parent company of subsidiary U.S. Borax Inc., headquartered in Los Angeles.

“We are anxious to show the world evidence of the company’s participation in these international law violations from former senior level army officers,” said Berman. “We are eager to introduce evidence showing that Rio supplied gunships and supplies and facilitated war crimes in order to keep revenues from their mine flowing.”

According to a declaration by General Singirok, commander of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) at the time of the alleged atrocities in the 1990s,”the PNGDF was Rio Tinto’s personal security force and was ordered to take action by any means necessary.”

“We can only hope that Judge Morrow’s thorough and reasoned opinion will allow victims in this case an opportunity to prove the allegations against Rio for its indefensible human rights violations,” Berman continued.

About Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro

The law firm of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro is based in Seattle with offices in Chicago, Cambridge, Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Francisco. Since the firm’s founding in 1993, it has developed a nationally recognized practice in class-action and complex litigation. Among recent successes, HBSS has negotiated a pending $300 million settlement as lead counsel in the DRAM memory antitrust litigation; a $340 million recovery on behalf of Enron employees which is awaiting distribution; a $150 million settlement involving charges of illegally inflated charges for the drug Lupron, and served as co-counsel on the Visa/Mastercard litigation which resulted in a $3 billion settlement, the largest anti-trust settlement to date. HBSS also served as counsel in a $850 million settlement in the Washington Public Power Supply litigation and represented Washington and 12 other states in lawsuits against the tobacco industry that resulted in the largest settlement in the history of litigation. For a complete listing of HBSS cases, visit www.hbsslaw.com.

    Contacts:
    Steve Berman Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro (206) 623-7292    Steve@hbsslaw.com
    Mark Firmani Firmani + Associates Inc. (206) 443-9357    Mark@firmani.com

SOURCE Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro

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