19 Jan 2015

Global union alerts Bougainville about Rio Tinto

11:19 am on 19 January 2015

A global union representing mineworkers is campaigning to alert people in Bougainville about what it calls bad behaviour by the international mining company Rio Tinto.

Rio Tinto has not ruled out returning to mine on Bougainville through its controlling stake in Bougainville Copper.

Adam Lee of IndustryALL Global Union which represents 50 million workers around the world says Rio Tinto has an atrocious record on safety and the environment which the union highlighted in a report last year.

"As outsiders we're not trying to say people should make a decision one way or the other but clearly the company isn't being really truthful about how they operate around the world and it's important to shine some light on how this company truly behaves because we believe once they're exposed that'll put some pressure on them to truly clean up their act."

Adam Lee says it's critical local people make an informed decision about mining again on Bougainville.

He says the latest example of its poor dealings with indigenous communities is the Resolution Copper project, in an area of the United States considered sacred to native Americans.

"Rio Tinto has pursued changes in the legislative process to enable it to get the permits required to mine in the area without having to go through some of the environmental reviews and without allowing the community including indigenous communities to really have a strong voice in the process."

The union says Bougainville's new mining legislation may not provide enough protection for local people.

Mr Lee says the union is working out how to convey more information about Rio Tinto in the dozens of languages spoken on Bougainville.