After the mine: Living with Rio Tinto’s deadly legacy
Date Reported: 6 May 2020
Location: Papua New Guinea
CompaniesBougainville Copper Ltd - Subsidiary , Rio Tinto - Parent Company
ProjectsPanguna - Unknown
Total individuals affected: Number unknownCommunity: ( Number unknown - Location unknown - Sector unknown , Gender not reported )
IssuesWater pollution , Violation of environmental safety standards , Personal Health , Clean, Healthy & Sustainable Environment , Impact on notable or protected areas , Impacts on Livelihoods
Response sought: Yes, by BHRRC
Story containing response: (Find out more)
Action taken: Rio Tinto & Bougainville Copper Ltd provided responses
Source type: NGO
Human rights violations
People living throughout the mine’s impact zone report that community members have died, or have been placed in life-threatening situations, as a result of the massive changes which the mine has wrought in their local environment.
This report, as well as previous studies on the mine, have recorded consistent accounts by people that they develop sores and ulcers, diarrhoea and vomiting, respiratory problems and pregnancy complications from contact with the water or consumption of fish from the rivers.
Almost all Panguna residents interviewed for this report cited water insecurity and anxieties about the unknown health risks of living near or consuming contaminated water as some of their most fundamental concerns.
...[T]he mine’s activities have undermined their basic access to food, without real redress or a framework for respecting this right. Villages have lost arable land with historic reports that the areas of land suitable for gardening in some villages ‘has decreased by as much as 90%’.
For the affected communities, the mine’s operations have led to the destruction of cemeteries, consequent disconnection from their ancestors, and continuing destruction of their sacred sites, as flooding and mud flows release torrents of mine waste into their cultural landscapes.
These impacts...also infringe the specific rights of rural women...‘to enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to housing, sanitation, …and water supply rights’.
The mine’s impacts have also had serious consequences for children’s rights to education and future livelihoods.