Catch 22 for land rehabilitation
Energy Resources of Australia (ERA), a company 68 per cent owned by Rio Tinto, have said that they “might struggle to pay” for the rehabilitation of the land around its Ranger uranium mine in Australia unless new mining operations were opened in the area.
According to the Age website, the current mines had reached the end of their production, but further mining could be carried out if an exploration for a subsequent stage of the mining was successful. The company's Annual Report stated that if the mines were not exploited further and there were no other successful developments, “ERA may require an additional source of funding to fully fund the rehabilitation of the Ranger Project Area.''
A spokesperson for the local indigenous group, the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation for the Mirarr people, was quoted as saying: ''The attitude of Rio and ERA shows that little has changed in more than three decades since [land rights campaigner] Galarrwuy Yunupingu described talks over the Ranger mine as 'like negotiating with a gun to my head'. The mining giants have made enormous profits at the expense of Mirarr traditional lands and are now holding the World Heritage-listed area to ransom.''
Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh was reported to have said that there was a rights issue at ERA to fund the rehabilitation work and that “those funds are still sitting within that business''. He described ERA as a public Australian company and said that the issue was for its Board. ''We are clearly shareholders, but it's a matter for all shareholders and a matter for the ERA board.''
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