Australia has agreed to consider allegations of human rights abuses against Rio Tinto due to contamination at the Panguna Mine site in Bougainville.
This decision means that decades after the mine was closed after the civil war, Rio Tinto will enter into negotiations to mediate disputes between landowners and the governments of Papua New Guinea and Bougainville.
Complaints filed by the Center for Human Rights Law allege that the large amount of mine waste pollution left at the former Panguna Mine endangers lives and livelihoods.
The scars of pollution at the Panguna Mine remain visible along the riverbanks-the result of copper pollution and mine tail ore from upstream of the mine.
Keren Adams, director of legal affairs at the Center for Human Rights Law, said Rio Tinto must be held responsible for the ongoing “deterioration” and “dangerous” situations facing the community.
“We hope this process … provides an urgent solution to the problems these communities are in desperate need of,” she told SBS News.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that if nothing is done about this issue, more people are likely to die.”
The Panguna Mine in Bougainville is one of the largest copper and gold mines in the world, generating an estimated US $ 2 billion in the 1970s and 1980s.
Rio Tinto states that it has taken “seriously” complaints about environmental and human rights concerns and has promised to discuss further conflict resolution.
“We do not fully accept complaints, but we recognize that the mining infrastructure in and around the site is deteriorating and that there are environmental and human rights considerations. ..
“We are ready to discuss with the complaining community.”
The Australian OECD National Liaison Office of the Treasury, which received the complaint for further consideration, will oversee the consultation process.
AusNCP has the authority to mediate disputes, publishes findings on whether companies have violated their obligations under OECD guidelines, and recommends measures to address any violations that occur.
Theonila Roka-Matbob, one of the 156 resident petitioners and a member of the Ioro Constituency, where the mine is located, welcomed the Australian Government’s promise to conduct further investigations.
“The community in my area has lived in terrible situations for a long time,” she said.
“We want Rio Tinto to commit to action to address the urgent problems our people are facing.”
Bougainville residents fund Rio Tinto to assess the independent environmental and human rights impact of the mine and donate to a fund to undertake long-term rehabilitation efforts that are likely to be on the order of tens of millions of dollars. I requested.
This controversy arises in another mining controversy in Australia. Rio Tinto destroyed a cave in the sacred Jucan Canyon 46,000 years ago.
Ms. Adams said the incident at the Panguna Mine and the Jukan Valley showed a disconnect between Rio Tinto’s rhetoric and the reality experienced by indigenous landowners.
“There is a fundamental gap in what they are doing, what is happening, and what the community is experiencing in the field,” she said.
She said the Center for Human Rights Law did not rule out any further “legal action” if no agreement could be reached.
Bougainville overwhelmingly voted for Papua New Guinea’s departure as an autonomous region last year, and there is still debate over whether the mine can be reopened to enhance economic security.
Rio Tinto no longer holds a stake in the mining site.
Australia agrees to review human rights complaint against Rio Tinto over Bougainville mine site Source link Australia agrees to review human rights complaint against Rio Tinto over Bougainville mine site