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17 Apr 2003

Paddy Manning, Sydney Morning Herald

Poor fellow mining country

Steering a big bank and a huge mining company, Leon Davis [chairman of Westpac, deputy chairman of Rio Tinto] puts Aboriginal disadvantage first on his unusual agenda...Westpac recently issued Australia's first comprehensive triple bottom line report...Rio Tinto has made striking progress in its relations with Aboriginal communities in Australia, winning praise from indigenous leaders...Westpac staff volunteers spend four weeks in Aboriginal communities providing mentoring on family financial and small business skills...Rio Tinto has a huge legacy of community conflict to come to terms with [including] the Jabiluka uranium mine, the Weipa industrial dispute, the Bougainville copper mine, allegations of human rights abuses at the huge (albeit minority-owned) FreeportGrasberg copper mine in West Papua, and ongoing debate about disposal of mine tailings at the Lihir gold mine in Indonesia. Recently, for example, Rio Tinto has opposed any ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change by Australia.