Guinea: Villagers claim Rio Tinto joint-owned mine is linked to polluted farmlands and waterways

Author: Dan Oakes, ABC News, Published on: 19 November 2019

"Mine joint-owned by Australian mining giant Rio Tinto is polluting community in Guinea, villagers say", 11 November 2019

Villagers from the area surrounding the bauxite mine [say]…that rivers and farmland have been polluted as a result of…mining and surveying activities…[and] the mining company has conducted surveys on their lands without permission. “[W]e ran out of drinking water…most of our backwaters have been polluted. The air is polluted. Dust is dropping on our plants…[t]here’s less cultivatable soil available” [(villager, Kounssa Bailo Barry)].

Boke [Mine]…is operated by…Compaigne des Bauxites de Guinee (CBG)…[and] Rio Tinto is the part-owner of CBG, along with Alcoa and Dadco, in partnership with the Guinean Government. Households from 13 villages…have lodged a formal complaint against…the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which provided CBG with a…loan in 2016. The villagers are being assisted by [NGO] Inclusive Development International (IDI), which claims aluminium from the…mine has found its way into the supply chains of…Coca Cola, Red Bull, BMW, Fiat-Crysler, Ferrari, Coors and Campbell’s Soup. The complaint has been filed with the independent watchdog of the IFC, [accusing] the lending organisation of breaching its own standards and international law.

Barry said the local authorities…sided with the mining company over the local inhabitants…“the community can complain, but we never hear anything back”.  In September 2017, people in the Boke region rioted…several were shot dead by Guinean security forces. Other villagers [said]…authorities intimidated villagers into silence…IDI said that the owners of the mine…should shoulder responsibility for the impact of the mine.

Rio Tinto said: “it is in our policies and standards,…aligned with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, to identify whether we have caused or contributed to adverse human rights impacts and…to engage in a remedy. We are…supporting CBG’s participation…in the IFC’s grievance mechanism”.

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Related companies: Alcoa Dadco Alumina Rio Tinto