Xstrata, desperately seeking legitimacy

The operators of McArthur River Mine, aptly named McArthur River Mining (MRM – a wholly owned subsidiary of Xstrata) have finally acknowledged their very poor record in community relations.

Unfortunately, instead of doing something about it (ie engage properly with the local community), they have chosen to say how good they are. Last week they received an award for Excellence in Community Relations for the NT Minerals Council.

When I sought confirmation of the award – which was announced via an MRM press release -on the NT Minerals Website it was nowhere to be found. Maybe the website is yet to updated, or maybe everyone is embarrassed given MRM’s dubious reputation for  community relations.

Here is a reminder of what the EPA said about MRM’s community engagement in the Assesment Report 54

“The proponent has failed to capitalise on the opportunity that exists when working within a community where a cooperative relationship based on trust is established. MRM have operated at Borroloola for over 10 years and there appears to be little trust within some parts of the local community. An opportunity was presented to start working with a component of the community through respecting and using the communication channel presented by the [Borroloola Traditional Owners Group] BTOG. However the proponent put in place its own CRG [Community Reference Group] of which the key operative element is information provision, rather than true consultation.”

“Xstrata has not presented a social impact analysis, assessment or plan in either the EIS or the PER, even though the PER states that a key activity of the MRM Community Relations Team (none of which are identified members of the CRG) is the development of social impact management plans – ‘detailed plans of impact of the mine and its community (employees, contractors, movement of products etc) in or on the local community and actions to minimize or mitigate the potential impacts.’”

The view of the Borroloola Traditional Owners Group(BTEG), formed to talk to MRM/Xstrata is clear.

“MRM has failed to consult with Traditional Owners… MRM has deliberately ignored this group.”

“MRM has failed to make an agreement for the life of the proposed mine with Traditional Owners, and has not consulted with them about their expectations for an agreement.”

This award is indicative of a company desperately seeking legitimacy, using the NT Minerals Council to try and wash their community relations reputation.

It won’t work. Give up now. Leave our river where it is.

10 responses to “Xstrata, desperately seeking legitimacy

  1. I have been away for many years from this scene. The present attitude of Xstrata with respect to the environment and to local people is reminiscent of the modus operandi of the original MIM Ltd. I had hoped that time and a change of ownership would have improved things for the better…alas this does not seem to be the case. “I could weep if I had the tears”. Let us thank the universal almightly that one thing has changed……….we now have BLOGS.

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  3. Thanks for your support.I would never have thought in a million years that a mining company could be worse that the orginial MIM Ltd. The present company will probably try to avoid/hide further research and enquiries. I have already been informed by one active reseacher on the subject that this is indeed the case. I cannot understand this attitude. They will lose in the end if the people of Australia are adamant. Why not colloborate in the interests of the truth. I have sent an enguiry to Ed Turley of XMIM in this regard and so far have not got a reply and probably won’t get one. In another week (if no reply) I will put my letter to him into this blog. Australia is a democracy after all. Going against big companies has never been a really big feature of Australian concerns, so that they think they can get away with it. It is time for change!

  4. Three cheers for the brave people of Borroloola and the McArthur River district! When most Territorians barely battered an eyelid who dared to stand against an unjust process? Who persistently appealed to a deaf and indifferent government? You’ve made a stand against corporate bullying that should send shock waves through the country. Maybe one day your fellow Territorians will thank your for what you have done to protect our rights as well.

    Thank you for fighting.

  5. As promised in an earlier comment: Below is my email letter to Ed Turley (environment official of XMIM). Since he has not replied to my perfectly reasonable request for information I thought it best that the bloggers know about this further lapse: Quote

    “Mr. Ed Turley
    Mount Isa Mines Ltd
    Mount Isa
    April 23, 2007

    Dear Mr Turley
    I have just read of the reported high lead (Pb) levels (up to x 33 times normal) in Mount Isa town and mine soils, and the associated need for checking local children for possible lead poisoning. I was born in the town in 1936 and spent a lot my young life there. In 2006 (at age 70) I was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer with which I am now struggling. I have a reasonably complete record of my own family history for many generations. I am apparently the first person in either side of my family (for at least 6 generations) to have had any serious cancer problems.

    Recently I have noted many statistical and clinical studies on the web on highly probable cause and effect relationships between environmental cadmium (Cd)and a long list of human diseases including prostate cancer, diabetes, renal failure et.al.. Wikipedia has a reasonable summary on Cd for the layman, although there are many reputable medical studies reported on the web. Like Pb, Cd is also an accumulative poison. I thought it wise to make contact with you since cadmium is one of the other heavy metal contaminantes reportedly present in the town and mine environment.

    My question is: Do you have any studies on soil cadmium, and/or any studies on the local cadmium situation in general? The reported high incidence of diabetes in what seem to be Mount Isa based aborigines must be a cause for concern since (during my time) they habitually used Leichhardt River water well downstream of the townside for drinking and cooking purposes. I do sincerely hope that you will reply to this message.
    I remain
    Yours most sincerely
    Dr Douglas Laing
    Cali Colombia


    P.S. I am delighted with the High Court ruling

  6. I don’t think you will get much of an answer because MRM’s policy on releasing information is as follows.

    “MRM’s policy for information dissemination prevents the release of materialwhich is commercially sensitive, contains scientific or technicial data which is open to interpretation, or is bound by legal advice.” Brian Hearne, MRM 23 Jue 2006.

    As you can see Xstrata never intend to release anything. But please let us know if they ever do release something useful!

    Thanks for trying

  7. I am still waiting for XSTRATA to reply. I note that the Macquarie University study on lead contamination in Mount Isa has focused on the aborigines of the town. I went to school with children from their settlement on the Leichhardt River downstream of the mine where we often swam together as kids in the mine water polluted pools during the dry season. I went to school at the Mount Isa Town State School from 1948 to 1951 with many of these aborigines. I wonder whatever to Ronnie Gallagher.
    Douglas Laing

  8. I have just read the 2009 report on Health Indicators for Mount Isa HSD. The level of diabetes in the region is alarming and way above the rest of Queensland including North Queensland. I feel it is urgent to obtain the diabetes data breakdown for the town of Mount Isa. The studies reported by the Macquarie University group have clearly established that the extremely high level of lead contamination is due to mine emissions and not to other sources, i.e. as claimed by XMIM. Recently many well conducted international medical studies have shown a causal relationship between cadmium and diabetes. It is now time to expand the studies on the health of Mount Isa people to include the possibility that the probable high incidence of the diabetes in the town is related to the huge amount of cadmium deposited from emissions over the years.

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