Rio Tinto and Bougainville community members, represented by the Human Rights Law Centre, have reached an agreement to identify and assess legacy impacts of the former Panguna copper mine in Bougainville. This follows several months of constructive discussions facilitated by the Australian OECD National Contact Point . A joint committee of stakeholders will be formed to oversee a detailed independent assessment of …

Rio Tinto and Bougainville community members, represented by the Human Rights Law Centre, have reached an agreement to identify and assess legacy impacts of the former Panguna copper mine in Bougainville. This follows several months of constructive discussions facilitated by the Australian OECD National Contact Point (AusNCP).

A joint committee of stakeholders will be formed to oversee a detailed independent assessment of the Panguna mine to identify and better understand actual and potential environmental and human rights impacts of the mine which ceased operating in 1989.

The Panguna Mine Legacy Impact Assessment Committee will be established by the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and the parties to the AusNCP process, Rio Tinto, the HRLC and the community members the HRLC represents. It will be chaired by an independent facilitator with representatives invited to join the Committee from the Independent State of Papua New Guinea (PNG), ASX-listed Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL), as well as other landowners and community representatives.

Rio Tinto chief executive Jakob Stausholm said, “This is an important first step towards engaging with those impacted by the legacy of the Panguna mine. It comes after months of constructive engagement with the HRLC and the community members they represent facilitated by the Australian National Contact Point, as well as engagement with other key stakeholders including the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

“Operations at Panguna ceased in 1989 and we’ve not had access to the mine since that time. Stakeholders have raised concerns about impacts to water, land and health and this process will provide all parties with a clearer understanding of these important matters, so that together we can consider the right way forward. We take this seriously and are committed to identifying and assessing any involvement we may have had in adverse impacts in line with our external human rights and environmental commitments and internal policies and standards.”

The scope of the Impact Assessment, along with terms of reference for the Committee, have been drafted by the parties to the AusNCP process. The Impact Assessment will be predominantly funded by Rio Tinto with BCL contributing separately, provided that broader stakeholders on the Committee endorse the process and proposed methodology of the Impact Assessment, the Impact Assessment can be safely completed and an appropriate funding mechanism can be agreed. The ABG has confirmed its support for the process.

The Committee will appoint a chairperson and an independent third-party company (or consortium) to complete the Impact Assessment with strong environmental and human rights expertise as well as both global and regional experience.

Following the Impact Assessment, Rio Tinto and the other parties to the AusNCP process will discuss the recommendations from the Impact Assessment and the remaining commitments sought by the communities.

The joint statement from the parties to the AusNCP process is available at https://ausncp.gov.au/ .

Background

The Panguna mine was operated by BCL, majority owned by Rio Tinto, for 17 years from 1972 until 1989, when operations were suspended due to an uprising against the mine and subsequent civil war. A peace agreement was signed in 2001 and Bougainville was given greater autonomy within PNG, with a non-binding referendum in favour of independence held in 2019.

Rio Tinto transferred its 53.83 per cent majority shareholding in BCL to the ABG and the PNG Government in 2016 for no consideration, enabling ABG and PNG to hold an equal share in BCL of 36.4 per cent each. BCL is an ASX listed company with the remaining 27.2 per cent held by public and institutional investors. Rio Tinto holds no shares in BCL.

In September 2020, the HRLC, representing 156 residents of villages in the vicinity of the Panguna mine, filed a complaint with the AusNCP against Rio Tinto. The complaint alleges that Rio Tinto is accountable for significant breaches of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises relating to past and ongoing environmental and human rights impacts allegedly arising from the Panguna mine. The complaint also alleges that, notwithstanding its divestment, Rio Tinto is accountable for remediating these ongoing impacts as it has an ongoing obligation to provide for or cooperate in remediation where it identifies it has caused or contributed to harm. The complainants are seeking commitments from Rio Tinto to:

  • Engage with Panguna mine-affected communities to help find solutions and undertake formal reconciliation as per Bougainvillean custom;
  • Fund an independent environmental and human rights impact assessment of the mine by a team of qualified local and international experts to map impacts and to develop recommendations (Impact Assessment); and
  • Contribute to a substantial, independently managed fund, to help address the harms allegedly caused by the mine and assist long-term rehabilitation efforts.

The AusNCP accepted the complaint and Rio Tinto, HRLC and community representatives have been engaging productively through the ‘good offices’ of the AusNCP since November 2020.

This announcement is authorised for release to the market by Steve Allen, Rio Tinto’s Group Company Secretary.

Contacts
Please direct all enquiries to media.enquiries@riotinto.com

Media Relations, UK
Illtud Harri
M +44 7920 503 600

David Outhwaite
M +44 7787 597 493

Media Relations, Americas
Matthew Klar
T +1 514 608 4429

Investor Relations, UK
Menno Sanderse
M: +44 7825 195 178

David Ovington
M +44 7920 010 978

Clare Peever
M +44 7788 967 877

Media Relations, Australia
Jonathan Rose

M +61 447 028 913

Matt Chambers
M +61 433 525 739

Jesse Riseborough
M +61 436 653 412

Investor Relations, Australia
Natalie Worley
M +61 409 210 462

Amar Jambaa
M +61 472 865 948

Rio Tinto plc
6 St James’s Square
London SW1Y 4AD
United Kingdom
T +44 20 7781 2000
Registered in England
No. 719885

Rio Tinto Limited
Level 7, 360 Collins Street
Melbourne 3000
Australia
T +61 3 9283 3333
Registered in Australia
ABN 96 004 458 404
riotinto.com

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Copper Mountain Mining Corporation  is pleased to announce positive results from 48 drill holes, totaling 7,936 metres, drilled on the C6, C1 and C2 targets at its Cameron Copper Project as part of ongoing exploration at the property.  The drill program encountered intercepts of high-grade mineralization, within long, low-grade mineralized envelopes, with lateral continuity between intercepts of up to 1 kilometre. …

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Copper Mountain Mining Corporation will be hosting a conference call on Monday, November 1, 2021 at 7:30 am for senior management to discuss its third quarter 2021 results. The Company will be releasing its third quarter 2021 financial and operating results before markets open on Monday, November 1, 2021 . Dial-in information: Toronto and international: 1 764 8650 North America : 1 664 6383 Webcast: Replay …

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Gold isn't all that glitters in the land down under — silver in Australia is a major industry, and the country is home to both large and small players.

When it comes to precious metals, Australia has long punched above its weight — the nation was born riding the wave of a gold rush.

Gold isn't all that glitters through — Australia is also a major global producer of silver. It's among the 10 top producers, and was ranked seventh in 2020, with 1,300 tonnes coming from the many operational mines in the country. By comparison, the world's top producer, Mexico, produced 6,300 tonnes that same year.

Other key players in the silver market are Peru, China and Russia, which produce more silver than Australia, and the US, Argentina and Bolivia, which produce less.


Australia is sitting on quite a lot of the precious metal, with the world's second largest reserves, behind only Peru.

According to Geoscience Australia, one of the country's first mines was a silver-lead mine near Adelaide. Since then, the entire continent has been combed over with a fine-toothed comb, with deposits identified in every state and territory and active mines in every jurisdiction but one (Victoria).

Overall, Australia is well explored when it comes to silver, and since the mid-1800s it's had a constant stream of silver production. Aside from that, the country boasts metals-processing facilities in South Australia that separate the precious metal from its commonly mined counterpart metals, lead and zinc.

Silver companies in Australia

Those looking at the Australian silver market have options. There are plenty of big players with interests in Australian silver, and many smaller players for investors to consider researching too.

Most silver comes from mines dedicated to other metals — Glencore's (LSE:GLEN,OTC Pink:GLCNF) Mount Isa in Queensland produces mainly copper, zinc and lead, but silver is separated by the company's integrated processing streams. Glencore also operates the McArthur mine in the Northern Territory, which is primarily zinc, but between its copper and zinc assets, Glencore produced 7,404,000 ounces of silver in Australia in 2020 — over 200 tonnes.

Elsewhere, BHP (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BLT) produces a lot of silver as well at the Olympic Dam operation in South Australia. Perhaps best known for the production of uranium and copper, it also yields significant silver resources to the tune of 984,000 ounces in 2020 (or almost 28 tonnes).

According to Geoscience Australia data from 2016, over 20 mines in Australia produced silver in that year, while there are dozens of other resources identified in each state.

A primary producer of silver is the Cannington mine in Queensland, where South32 (ASX:S32,OTC Pink:SHTLF), a company that was spun off from BHP in 2015, mines silver and lead. Cannington is a big one, producing 11,792,000 ounces in 2020, or 334 tonnes of silver.

Tasmania boasts the Rosebery mine, which has seen 85 years of continuous operations and is currently owned by MMG (ASX:MMG,HKEX:1208). Rosebery, like all the others here, is polymetallic, and besides silver also produces copper, zinc, lead and gold. MMG also has the Dugald River mine in Queensland which also produced silver.

Getting into smaller companies, there are those like New Century Resources (ASX:NCZ) which restarted the Century mine in the Northern Territory for zinc and silver.

The future of silver in Australia

So, you get the picture — there's a lot of silver to be mined in Australia by way of mining everything else.

It's worth noting that because silver operates both as a precious and an industrial metal, and is mined most often alongside base metals, it can be pulled in many directions. However, it traditionally follows (and lags behind) its precious metal sibling, gold, making it a valuable investment commodity to keep an eye on.

Looking forward, the future of the commodity in the land down under — especially given Australia's significant reserves and operator diversity — is as bright as you'd like it, and depends on what investors are most interested in, given the by-product nature of the metal.

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Scott Tibballs, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Australia took a stand against Facebook and Google earlier this year, and the move could have long-term implications for tech investors.

It was a ban that sent Australians wild and had the whole world watching.

Back in February, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) stopped users in Australia from posting news in a week-long blackout, reacting to proposed legislation that would have forced the social media behemoth to pay publishers for content.

What prompted Facebook to "friend" Australia again, and what are the potential long-term implications of the squabble? Read on to learn what tech-focused investors in Australia should know about the situation.


Australia squares off against Facebook

On February 25 of this year, Australia's federal government passed the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code. It was developed after extensive analysis by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and is aimed at ensuring that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for their content.

It stipulates that digital platforms such as Facebook and Google (both named in the documentation) must pay news outlets whose content they feature — for example, if content is shared on Facebook or shows up in Google search results. The idea is that this will help to sustain journalism in Australia.

Unsurprisingly, Facebook and Google didn't react well to the code, which was first introduced in 2020.

Google didn't make any moves after it passed, but Facebook quickly made it impossible for Australian users to share news content, and pages for both local and international news organisations went blank — a major concern given the COVID-19 and wildfire concerns that were circulating at the time.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was scathing about Facebook's decision — which he ironically shared in a Facebook post — declaring the tech giant's actions "as arrogant as they were disappointing." He added, "These actions will only confirm the concerns that an increasing number of countries are expressing about the behaviour of BigTech companies who think they are bigger than governments and that the rules should not apply to them."

Despite strong feelings from both Australia and Facebook, the dispute was resolved fairly quickly, with the country agreeing to make four amendments to the legislation and Facebook restoring Australian's access to news.

Implications for Big Tech and news organisations

Both Australia and Facebook have claimed victory in the dispute, with a Facebook representative saying the company will be able to decide if news appears on the platform — meaning it won't automatically have to negotiate with any news businesses. Changes were also made to the arbitration process.

Tech experts have pointed out that larger news companies may ultimately benefit from the changes, but smaller ones could be pushed to the side. Major publishers that have struck agreements with tech giants, such as News Corp, Nine Entertainment (ASX:NEC,OTC Pink:NNMTF), Seven West Media (ASX:SWM) and Guardian Australia, may be able to increase their market share while smaller independent players lose out.

A business that is in full support of the laws is Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). During the conflict, President Brad Smith came out loudly in favour of Australia's law, and advised that his company is willing to step up with search engine Bing should Google and/or Facebook pull out of the Australian market.

"In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pushed forward with legislation two years in the making to redress the competitive imbalance between the tech sector and an independent press. The ideas are straightforward. Dominant tech properties like Facebook and Google will need to invest in transparency, including by explaining how they display news content," he said in a blog post.

"The United States should not object to a creative Australian proposal that strengthens democracy by requiring tech companies to support a free press. It should copy it instead."

Global reach and tech investor impact

Six months down the road from Australia's landmark legislation, it's tough to say what the long-term impact may be.

That said, market watchers do believe the country is part of a new precedent of forcing Big Tech into paying for journalism — something giants Facebook and Google are not used to.

Countries looking to pursue similar legislation include Canada, where Facebook agreed in May to pay 14 publishers to link to their articles on its COVID-19 and climate science pages, as well as other unspecified use cases. Canada is pursuing other avenues too. Meanwhile, in France, Google said it will pay publishers for news content after the country took up new EU copyright laws that make digital platforms liable for infringements.

For investors, the takeaway is perhaps that while companies like Facebook and Google may seem too big too fail, they too can fall subject to new regulations that can change how they do business. As nations around the world look to take back control from these mega companies, it's important to be aware of possible effects on their bottom lines.

Don't forget to follow @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Ronelle Richards, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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