Rio Tinto: A record fit for the Olympics?


Rio Tinto has provided all the metal for the 4,700 gold, silver and bronze medals at the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games. Most of the metal for the medals comes from the company’s Bingham Canyon mine in Utah, USA, operated by its Kennecott Utah subsidiary. A small proportion of the metal comes from its Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia.

There are concerns over the impacts of these mines on air and water quality, water availability, human health, worker rights and Indigenous Peoples’ rights. There are also grave concerns about a number of the company’s other operations around the world.

Rio Tinto is the third largest publicly traded mining company in the world, after BHP Billiton and Vale. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and its international headquarters are in London. As the fourth biggest uranium producer in the world, Rio Tinto produced around 17 million pounds in 2009 from mines in Australia, Namibia and the USA.

The company also produces and markets aluminium, coking and thermal coal, copper, diamonds, gold, iron ore, nickel, silver, titanium, and other minerals. The company says of itself: Our Group wide values of accountability, respect, teamwork and integrity guide our approach. We are recognised for building mutually beneficial relationships with our stakeholders based on active partnership and long term commitment. We are also regarded as a company that brings long term benefits to our local communities and host countries. … Key to successful mineral development is a culture of trust, transparency and mutual benefit to all parties. This is established through honest engagement with all stakeholders, including governments and local communities. Equally important is our determination to minimise the Group’s environmental footprint, particularly when it comes to carbon, water and biodiversity.

Let us take a look at some examples of the company’s behavior and see whether it is living up to its own aspirations. First, we will examine the two mines which produced almost all the metal for the Olympic medals.

Download the full report by London Mining Networkhere.

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