Mining engineer Jack Parker challenged Rio Tinto over the design of its Eagle Mine in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in October 2010 (see and in July 2011 challenged the Michigan state government for allowing mine construction to go ahead ( On 5 February 2013, Jack wrote the following open letter to the London-based International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), pointing out that Rio Tinto is a founder member of the ICMM and arguing that the company’s conduct is inadequate.
I have sent this message several times already but, since nothing changed, here it is again. It concerns one of your founding members.
I read your fine words and intentions, notably on integrity and sustainable mining, but wish to point out to the general public that those intentions have not yet reached Michigan in the USA.  For brevity I select only two topics – from a choice of dozens.
1.  INTEGRITY.  I have in mind the Rio Tinto Eagle project, near Marquette, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a few miles south of Lake Superior.  It is in my “back yard” but that part doesn’t bother me.
As an ancient mining engineer launched in the UK in the 1950’s, here and abroad, in more than 500 different underground mines, I have not retired yet because I became involved in the evaluation of the application for mining permits in the year 2006.  Within a couple of months we found the document to be completely inadequate, even fraudulent. It should have been rejected summarily.  I can show you the fraudulent aspects if you wish, without doubt.
With collusion from the courts and the Michigan Dept of Environmental Quality the document was approved, the permits were issued and work has progressed to the point at which production is expected in 2014 – although a 20-mile haul road from mine to mill has not yet been built.
I have no complaints concerning the quality of the work force or the work done at the mine site.
Rio Tinto does not deny the charges of fraud, but changes the subject.  Not unlike Big Tobacco tactics.
2.  SUSTAINABLE MINING.  The ores at the Eagle are classified as disseminated, semi-massive and massive sulfides.
The published plan is and has always been to mine only the massive and semi-massive sulfides, in six or seven years of production. That ore will be worth more than $1000/tonne.
More than a billion dollars worth of the disseminated sulfides, still worth more than $200/tonne, is to be left unmined, and the plan is still to backfill and plug the mine and reclaim the surface.
If the ores were blended – the life of the mine, hence the jobs, would be extended to around 25 years, not six or seven.
Would ICMM consider this to be responsible, sustainable mine planning?   A jobs issue gone awry?
Somewhere in your ranks you should have a few who would call it irresponsible high-grading.
In neighboring Wisconsin Kennecott (now Rio Tinto) similarly high-graded the Flambeau deposit, and they do not deny it.
To demonstrate ICMM integrity – will you please publish this letter openly, unabridged, and consider changing your ways?
Thank you,
Jack Parker, Mining Engineer, Baltic MI 49963 , USA February 5th 20131