Rio Tinto: The Mining Giant Pollutes Indonesia's Environment

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Indonesia - Paying for Rio Tinto's Operations

The mining industry, an integral part of any economy, happens to be an easy target for environmentalists. This is because almost all mining projects cause environmental damage and are also responsible for disturbing the living habits and lifestyles of the indigenous people. Large scale topographical changes are common and the land where mining activities are carried out invariably get changed/damaged.

More harmful than these are the contaminations caused by tailings (solid waste left after the processing of ore) and waste water (water used for treating the mining waste) disposal. Mining organizations have to set up a massive infrastructure in and around the mines (roads, buildings etc.) besides bringing in their staff, who stay there for extended periods of time....

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Taking Remedial Action

Rio Tinto was fully aware of the damage all the negative publicity was causing to its image as a socially responsible company. In addition to the rehabilitation measures, the company had in fact taken many other remedial steps to salvage its reputation.In 1997, Rio Tinto claimed that it had stopped using 'old' mining practices and adopted a new approach, which was guided by the document entitled 'The Way We Work' (Refer Exhibit III for the company's environmental policy listed in the document). Thereafter, the company even claimed to be the 'industry leader' in adopting a community friendly approach. ...

Will Rio Tinto Change for the Better?

In 2003, reacting to the wide spread criticism against the company, Rio Tinto said in its 'Social and Economic Review Report of 2002', "We have three long-term goals: Zero injuries and elimination of occupational injury and illness; zero infringment of health, safety and environment regulations; and zero spills to the environment...


Exhibit I: Poboya Community's Letter to the Indonesian Government
Exhibit II: Rio Tinto - World Wide Operations
Exhibit III: Rio Tinto - Environmental Damages Caused Outside Indonesia
Exhibit IV: Rio Tinto - A Note on Various Controversial Business Practices
Exhibit V: Rito Tinto - The Way We Work