Rio Tinto

Mining company Rio Tinto has been fined only $50,000 over the collapse of a dam wall at its Mount Thorley Warkworth mine last year.

It is estimated that up to 4 megalitres of sediment-laden rainwater flowed into the Wallaby Scrub Road reserve from the dam. The company blamed the collapse on several days of continuous rain, which softened the dam’s earth wall. However the court found the event was not a major storm but "merely what is regarded as a one-in-two-year rain event". 

On July 20 last year Wonnarua Elders Kevin Taggart and Patricia Hansson were part of a small group of Bulga residents protesting plans by Rio Tinto to close Wallaby Scrub Road as part of its expansion of the Warkworth mine.

Police arrived and arrested the only two Aboriginal people present.

About 50 Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) members and supporters occupied the foyer of the Brisbane offices of Rio Tinto on March 28.

Rio Tinto has reneged on its agreement with the MUA to have 70–80% Australian crew on its coastal fleet. Instead it is using exploited foreign workers who are paid $3–4 per hour. This is despite posting a $6 billion profit last year.

About 2500 workers have been on strike since February 9 at the Escondida mine in Chile’s north.

Owned by two Anglo-Australian mining giants, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, Escondida is the largest producer of “red gold” in the world. The mine extracts about 900,000 tonnes a year. This represents 20% of copper production in Chile, the country with the largest copper reserves in the world.

More than 200 people gathered in Sydney's Domain on August 7 to mark the symbolic founding of "New Bulga" behind the NSW State Parliament building. The pop-up village of New Bulga was set up to continue the fight by the residents of the village of Bulga in the Upper Hunter Valley against ongoing moves by Rio Tinto to expand its Warkworth coalmine closer to the town.

Two Aboriginal elders were arrested at a protest against multinational mining company Rio Tinto blasting at the Mount Thorley-Warkworth coalmine in the Hunter Valley on July 18.

Wonnarua elders Kevin Taggart and his sister Pat Hannson were arrested after telling police they would not move from the side of Putty Road.

Residents of the village of Bulga are protesting against the expansion of the Mount Thorley-Warkworth mine, the closure of Wallaby Scrub Road and the destruction of Aboriginal and European cultural heritage.


The Mt Thorley-Warkworth "final void" is too expensive to fill in.

Early this month mining giant Rio Tinto sold its mothballed Blair Athol coalmine to a tiny ASX-listed company called TerraCom for $1. Rio Tinto had been trying to sell the mine since it closed in 2012.

"Cool fuel" was the groovy title of the Ed! supplement about natural gas in the April 5 edition of The West Australian that gets distributed to all our schools.

To be sure natural gas is "cool" when liquefied. But nowhere among the topics covered, such as "Careers in LNG", "Power to You" and "West is best" is there any mention of natural gas as a significant contributor to catastrophic global warming. Nor does it mention that because of fugitive emissions in the production cycle natural gas is up there with coal as a carbon polluter.

The residents of the tiny Hunter Valley village of Bulga have applied to have the Planning Assessment Commission’s (PAC) approval of a Rio Tinto coalmine expansion declared invalid due to a legal error.

The Environmental Defenders Office’s chief executive officer Sue Higginson, who is running the case, said: "This is an appeal not based on the merit of whether this mine should go ahead or not, but based on whether the PAC has applied the law as it applies to mining projects in high biodiversity areas."

More than 400 workers from several unions, notably the CFMEU, took their fight straight to billion dollar miner Rio Tinto for its complicity in sacking Australian seafarers and replacing them with foreign workers, who are paid as little as $2 an hour.

On February 5 in the Port of Newcastle, five crew members were marched down the gangway of the CSL Melbourne by more than 30 police. Those same police escorted the foreign replacement crew onto the ship to sail it away.

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