Native Americans: Rio’s copper plan belies gorge vows – by Peter Ker (Australian Financial Review – August 21, 2020)

Native American groups say Rio Tinto’s plan to build a big copper mine on one of their sacred sites contradicts the company’s vow to improve management of cultural heritage in the wake of this year’s Juukan Gorge debacle in Western Australia.

The comments from Apache and environmental groups in the US highlight the global ramifications of Rio’s decision to blast through the culturally sensitive gorge in May, and how inconvenient the timing could be for the company’s plan to build a big new copper mine in Arizona.

US regulators were scheduled to file their final environmental impact study into the Resolution Copper project in July, ending eight years of approval processes and triggering a controversial land swap within 60 days.

The land swap was engineered by former Republican senator John McCain in 2014 and will allow Rio and its partner BHP access to lands that are believed to contain historical artefacts and human burial grounds.

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