RIO Tinto’s $US20 billion ($20.8bn) Simandou iron ore project in Guinea will see more than 10,000 people relocated to make way for a railway to move the raw material to the coast, raising potential issues over who will be responsible for their wellbeing.
The extent of the relocations were revealed yesterday by Rio’s iron ore counsel Philip Edmands in a talk to a resources and energy law association conference.
“We need to move in excess of 10,000 people and there is a patchwork quilt of titles that have to be acquired,” Mr Edmands told the AMPLA conference in Adelaide yesterday.
The complex, 670km multi-user railway to take iron ore from the Simandou concessions, which Rio hopes it will start building in 2018, will include two viaducts, 24km of tunnels and 29 bridges, and is expected to help open up the heavily populated hinterland.
The number of displaced people is larger than many were expecting, given the project’s latest social and environmental impact statement says 15 settlements, with a total of just “270 structures”, would need to be physically moved to make way for the railway.
The statement said the rail corridor would occupy 8000 hectares of land and was expected to disrupt the livelihoods of a further number of households, resulting in more economic displacement.
Mr Edmands said such a large relocation needed to be done with care. He highlighted a May Human Rights Watch report on people moved from a river area in Mozambique to make way for coalmining.
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