Australia’s Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) issued a statement saying that the residents of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea have welcomed this week’s decision by the Australian government to accept a human rights complaint against mining giant Rio Tinto (ASX, LON, NYSE: RIO) for investigation and conciliation.
The complaint, which was filed by the HRLC on behalf of 156 Bougainville residents, alleges environmental and human rights violations caused by Rio Tinto’s former Panguna mine on the island.
The operation was run by Rio Tinto subsidiary Bougainville Copper (BCL) and was abandoned in the 1990s due to a civil war that was largely fought over how mine profits should be shared. Some 25 years later, in 2016, Rio handed its shareholding to national and local governments.
But people in Bougainville say that the miner is responsible for the vast quantities of waste left by the copper and gold mine, which are poisoning their water sources, flooding their lands and sacred sites and causing a range of health problems.