Between 2013 and 2014 the QMM mine breaches the authorised limits of an environmental buffer zone, which is designed to protect a local estuary system. The statutory buffer limit has already been reduced from 80m to 50m and the mine extends even further beyond this. It thus encroaches onto the bed of Lake Besaroy in the adjacent estuary system, raising concerns that the mine is leaching radionuclides such as uranium into the local water system. At least 15,000 local people access their domestic and drinking water supplies here, while also relying on the health of lakes for fishing livelihoods. Studies later confirm this contamination with concern over the threat to people’s health and a demand to the company to provide safe drinking water for affected villagers.
The QMM mine and its entire history of polluting the environment, harming people’s health and livelihoods, and suppressing protests is noticeably absent from Rio Tinto’s own timeline.