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30 May 2020

Wayne Bergmann, National Indigenous Times

Commentary: Rio Tinto’s values and culture—failing to walk the walk

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31 May 2020


Rio Tinto has prided itself as being a company of the 21st century. According to Rio Tinto's publication The Way We Work from August 2017, Rio Tinto values Safety, Teamwork, Respect, Integrity and Excellence.


Why weren't Rio Tinto's values and culture called into play when developing their mining plan around Juukan Gorge?

Even though Rio Tinto goes on to say, "We support the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights and respect those rights where we operate and are committed to operating consistently with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights". Why have Traditional Owners' values not been respected?


History tells us the average mining company has a poor record in protecting the environment and Aboriginal sites.


Many years ago, I was inspired by the rhetoric, values and culture of Rio Tinto. ...Chief Executive Officer and later Chair of Rio Tinto, Sir Ronald Wilson...said that Rio Tinto was about having the best human rights standards, the best employment standards, and the best environmental standards in the world, so that nations and their Indigenous Peoples will choose Rio Tinto to operate in their backyard. So nations and their Indigenous Peoples will choose Rio Tinto because of the high standards of integrity in which they operate when extracting and developing natural resources.


Rio Tinto has expressed a degree of remorse for what they did. But the remorse quickly dissipated as Rio Tinto vigorously defended and justified their decision to damage these sacred sites because they had legal approval.


Nations and Indigenous Peoples need to consider whether Rio Tinto can be trusted to operate in their backyard.


Part of the following timelines

Australia: Rio Tinto mining blast destroys ancient Aboriginal sacred site

Australia: Extractive companies’ projects threaten to destroy Aboriginal heritage sites