2012 medals mine linked to premature deaths in Utah
London Mining Network, an extractive industry watchdog, has reacted angrily to news that mining giant has been allowed to supply metals for the Olympics without having an agreed audit in place. Speaking in an interview published on the Daily Telegraph website today, Sean McCarthy, the chairman of the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 said, “Locog’s procedures say there has to be an audit but they allowed this company to slip through the net, they don’t have an audit they haven’t been certified and yet the metals have been supplied.”
The metal being supplied from the Kennecott mine in Utah has been a source of controversial pollution for many local inhabitants. In 2011, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment filed a lawsuit accusing Rio Tinto, a sponsor of the Games, of violating environmental protection agency limits on emissions.
Richard Solly of London Mining Network said:
“It’s shameful that the medals that will be worn by athletes are tainted by the misery of respiratory diseases and even premature deaths of those communities in Utah who have to endure the pollution caused by Rio Tinto’s mines. It makes a mockery of these being the ‘greenest games ever’ when Locog hasn’t carried out basic checking procedures on an incredibly controversial mining company like Rio Tinto.”
Cherise Udell, Utah Moms for Clean Air said:
“Rio Tinto is responsible for so much air pollution in Salt Lake City where the Olympic medal metals are coming from that children are statistically much more likely to end up with impaired lung function. While Rio Tinto is rewarding sporting excellence in London, in my community it is destroying the chances of our children being able to breathe properly, let alone being able to take part in international athletics.”
Rio Tinto were one of three controversial companies (as well as Dow Chemical and BP) that have been the subject of the Greenwash Gold campaign which is encouraging people to watch short animations and vote for the “worst” Olympic sponsor. The result will be announced just before the start of the games.
For more information or comment,
Richard Solly, London Mining Network contact@londonminingnetwork.org, 07929 023 214
*** ENDS ***
The article in the Telegraph can be read at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/9341456/London-2012-Olympics-Rio-Tinto-allowed-to-start-production-of-Games-medals-without-audit.html
To see the Rio Tinto Greenwash Gold animation on youtube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=li7wACA2TFI&feature=plcp
Al Jazeera English is broadcasting a programme on controversy surrounding Rio Tinto as an Olympic sponsor on Wednesday 20 June at 23.30
Rio Tinto
The metal for the 2012 Olympics medals is being provided by Rio Tinto, a massive British mining company. Metal for the medals will come from the company’s Kennecott Bingham Canyon mine in Utah, USA, and its Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia.
Groups in Utah are protesting about air pollution from Rio Tinto’s Bingham Canyon operations, which contributes to hundreds of premature deaths each year in the Salt Lake City area. Planned expansion would make the situation worse. The Oyu Tolgoi mine will use enormous quantities of water in a desert region, and campaigners there accuse the company of poor planning and failure to share information with the public.
But these are not the only concerns about Rio Tinto. The company’s Ranger Uranium Mine in Australia routinely spills radioactive water into the surrounding area and is opposed by Aboriginal communities. Rio Tinto is associated with human rights abuses around its now-closed Kelian Gold Mine in Indonesia and the Grasberg copper and gold mine in West Papua. In Bougainville, in the Pacific, it hopes to reopen a copper mine which caused such catastrophic pollution that it sparked a war.
In the USA, it is accused of violation of Indigenous treaty rights in Michigan, a legacy of pollution in Wisconsin, and planning destructive projects in Alaska and Arizona. And it has a history of appalling labour relations – currently workers at its aluminium smelter in Quebec, Canada, are locked out because the company refuses equal pay for equal work.