4 May 2006

Australian Miner to face protest over Papua Mine

8:47 am on 4 May 2006

An Australian mining advocacy group, Papuan independence activists and Rio Tinto shareholders are expected to mount a protest over the company's environmental record at today's annual general meeting in Melbourne.

Rio Tinto is in a joint venture with Freeport McMoran which runs the Grasberg copper and gold mine in Indonesia's Papua province.

It was also the company behind the Panguna copper mine which sparked the ten years of civil war on Bougainville in Papua New Guinea.

The executive director of the Mineral Policy Institute, Techa Beaumont, says they are concerned that Freeport has for years failed to comply with government requirements to amend its destructive environmental practices.

" "Now there's been official findings that the company's in breach of the relevant regulations and there has basically been no action, that we can see, on the part of the company, to address these breaches." "

Techa Beaumont says they are also concerned that discussions on the possibility of re-opening the Panguna mine have yet to involve the people living around the mine.