This morning, April 18th, 2013, Rio Tinto held their Annual General Meeting in London.  Our Director, Roger Featherstone, was in town and attended the meeting.  

During the meeting, Roger was able to ask the Rio Tinto Board of Directors the following question:

“My name is Roger Featherstone. I’m the Director of the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition from Arizona, USA. we have been closely following and are very concerned about Rio Tinto, through its subsidiary, Resolution Copper, not playing by the rules in your attempt to privatize an area withdrawn from mining by President Eisenhower in 1955 in order to build a copper mine. This area, the Oak Flat Campground and the surrounding watershed is sacred and critical for the religious freedom of Native American Tribes. It is heavily used for recreation, especially rock climbing and camping and is ecologically sensitive. Oak Flat is a hour east of Phoenix, Arizona in the United States.

There is a tried and true method of permitting mines located on public land. This method involves completing exploration, and writing a mining plan of operations, and submitting it to the appropriate federal agency for a through review. Every large mine permitting in the United States since 1973 has gone through this process. However, instead of writing a mining plan which can be fully vetted, you have chosen to instead pressure the United States Congress to pass special interest legislation that would give you the land without first writing a mining plan. You say it will take you a decade before you would be ready to mine at Oak Flat, which would give you plenty of time to write a mining plan.

You have tried to bypass the normal permitting process with your special interest bill 11 times and have failed. Yet you persist in trying yet another time which only wastes time and money both for your company and our communities.

You say that you will only mine after receiving the free, prior, and informed consent of local people that would be impacted by your proposed project before moving forward. However, in this case, you have not and cannot receive the free, prior, and informed consent of local people without first writing your mining plan, yet you continue to pressure the US Congress and others to give you this precious piece of public land.

How do you reconcile your corporate rhetoric about getting local informed permission first with your actions on the ground in Arizona? Will you commit to stop pressuring the US Congress to pass your legislation until you have completed your exploration, written your plan and had it fully vetted by the appropriate federal agencies?”

Rio Tinto’s new CEO, Sam Walsh provided a message that was nothing more that Rio Tinto’s standard talking points. so this was to be expected.  Still, some shareholders we clearly disturbed that Ro Tinto is not following the rules and want to know more about the Oak Flat situation.

Stay tuned as we will hopefully putting up video of the questions and Rio Tinto’s response.”