21 Aug 2007

US court to review Bouganville case against Rio Tinto

3:16 pm on 21 August 2007

The mining company, Rio Tinto Group, will get a new US federal appeals court review of whether it must face claims of human rights violations at its Panguna mine in Papua New Guinea.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has set aside a decision by a panel of three of its judges to reinstate a 2000 lawsuit by landowners, claiming a company copper mine on Bougainville contributed to the deaths of thousands of people.

The Bloomberg new agency reports a panel of 11 judges will now hear the case.

Rio Tinto's Panguna mine was shut in 1989 after armed attacks.

Plaintiffs claim the London-based company and the Papua New Guinea government formed a joint venture to operate the mine, and are responsible for deaths related to civilian resistance to its operation.

The suit, filed under a law allowing non-citizens to sue in the US for international law violations, seeks damages for alleged human rights abuses and chemical dumping.

Rio Tinto has denied the allegations.