Indonesia: IndustriALL calls on Rio Tinto to publicly state what it will do to end worker deaths at Grasberg mine

indonesia protest rio tinto

IndustriALL have called for Rio Tinto to state what it is doing to address safety concerns at the Indonesian Grasberg mine after 38 workers died in the last 2 years.  Rio Tinto is a participant in a joint venture interest at the mine which is majority owned, and operated, by Freeport-McMoran through its operating subsidiary PT Freeport Indonesia. 

In November 2014 we invited Rio Tinto to respond to the concerns raised by IndustriALL which it did on 17 November.  It noted that it takes health and safety "extremely seriously" and that "senior Rio Tinto leaders have visited the site, shared our company knowledge and provided practical advice to support Freeport's actions" on worker safety.  On 20 November IndustriALL sent a rejoinder to that response, stating that it  was "extremely disappointed by Rio Tinto’s continued refusal to speak publicly about what it will do to end the string of deaths at...Grasberg" and called on Rio Tinto to "seriously address" the issue.  We again invited Rio Tinto to respond to the rejoinder.  On 1 December Rio Tinto informed us that it had "nothing further to add to its previous response."

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Article
4 February 2015

Indonesia: another fatality at the Grasberg mine owned by Freeport & Rio Tinto

Author: IndustriALL

"Indonesia: another fatality at the Grasberg mine", 29 Jan 2015

A mine worker was killed on 24 January at Rio Tinto's minority-owned mine in Papua, Indonesia. This brings the death toll at the mine over the last two years to a staggering 39...Mining giant Rio Tinto, who owns a stake in the mine, is consistently failing to take public responsibility for the numerous deaths at this site. In internal e-mails to the staff following the two most recent fatal incidents at the mine, Rio Tinto’s CEO Sam Walsh even blames the workers themselves for the accidents, citing bad driving practices and workers being “complacent”.

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Company non-response
5 December 2014

Rio Tinto has nothing further to add to its previous response

NGO rejoinder
20 November 2014

Rejoinder from IndustriALL to Rio Tinto's response of 17 Nov 2014

Author: IndustriALL

IndustriALL is extremely disappointed by Rio Tinto’s continued refusal to speak publicly about what it will do to end the string of deaths at the Grasberg mine in Indonesia.  IndustriALL called on Rio Tinto to seriously address this matter following two fatal incidents in which five Grasberg miners died in September. Rio Tinto responded with a one paragraph, unsigned statement in which it again distances itself from responsibility for the killings and notes it is offering Freeport advice. This is a wholly inadequate response given the size of Rio Tinto’s investment in Grasberg and the gravity of the problem, and it gives the thousands of Grasberg mineworkers little confidence that they will remain safe.

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Company response
17 November 2014

Rio Tinto's response

Author: Rio Tinto

We take safety extremely seriously throughout our business and we are very saddened by the tragic loss of life at the Grasberg mine operated by Freeport in Indonesia. Senior Rio Tinto leaders have visited the site, shared our company knowledge and provided practical advice to support Freeport’s actions to learn from and avoid a recurrence of these tragic accidents.

Download the full document here

Article
31 October 2014

IndustriALL: Time for Rio Tinto to end dead silence on Grasberg fatalities

Author: IndustriALL

IndustriALL Global Union is calling on Rio Tinto to speak publicly about what it will do to end the string of deaths at the Grasberg mine in Indonesia. The mine is now facing a strike over safety concerns...IndustriALL’s Indonesian affiliate CEMWU has announced it will begin a one-month strike at the mine on 6 November due to mine management not being held responsible for the fatalities. Five miners died at the copper and gold mine in September. This brings the total number of workers killed at the mine over the last two years to a staggering 38. Rio Tinto has invested over a billion dollars in the Grasberg mine and serves on its operating, technical and sustainable development committees. The mine is majority-owned by Freeport.“Rio Tinto made no public statement following two recent fatal incidents at Grasberg. This is unacceptable for a company that says safety of its workers is core to everything it does,” says IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan.It appears the company’s public silence is part of an attempt to keep its name out of press reports on the fatalities. But it’s time for Rio Tinto to own up to its failure and speak openly about what the company will do to ensure these disasters never happen again.IndustriALL has raised workplace safety concerns with Rio Tinto on a number of times since a tunnel collapse killed 28 workers at Grasberg in May 2013.“Rio Tinto has claimed to us in private that Freeport, not Rio Tinto, manages Grasberg, but that they are now helping Freeport to improve safety performance. However, given Rio Tinto’s huge stake in the mine it’s simply not credible to deny any responsibility for the deaths,” states Özkan. [The planned strike referred to above did not in fact go ahead]

 

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