Mining companies need to work harder to “change the barbecue conversation” and start restoring the level of public trust in the industry, says the head of Australian mining giant Rio Tinto.
“Mining is absolutely vital and this won’t change anytime soon,” Rio Tinto’s chief executive, Jean-Sebastien Jacques, will tell an industry conference on Tuesday. “But, I hate to tell you, our industry is one of the least-trusted on the planet.”
In an address to be delivered to the International Mining and Resources Conference in Melbourne, Mr Jacques says it is a crucial time in the development of the mining industry – a time when protecting the environment is more important than ever, when technology is disrupting traditional processes, and when a lack of trust in business is creating even more questions about the benefits of the corporate sector, “including mining and the contribution we make”.
Mr Jacques refers to the Oscar-winning 2009 movie Avatar, and its negative portrayal of the mining industry, to demonstrate how mining is often perceived, saying it “makes me sad – or, depending on the day, mad”.
“It is a simple fact that mining is essential to human progress and has been for the last century and more,” he says. “So, the world needs us and it is about time we stopped punching below our weight. We need to be better at telling our story.”