Rio Tinto beefs up dispute resolution team for Guinean bauxite

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Rio Tinto said on Friday it has provided expertise to its Guinean partner to help settle a dispute with local communities over resettlement for a bauxite mine.

Guinean villagers in communities around the mine filed a complaint in 2019 with International Finance Corp, a global development institution linked to the World Bank, alleging contraventions by miner Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée SA (CBG) of its commitments around resettlement and pollution.

Bauxite producer CBG is 51% owned by consortium Halco Mining Inc and 49% owned by the Guinean government. Rio Tinto and Alcoa Corp each hold 45% of Halco, while Dadco Investments holds the rest.

Rio said in a statement it had offered CBG a Guinea-based Africa specialist and a manager with experience on resettlement and human rights, to encourage it to work towards an outcome aligned with international standards.

The global miner is battling to restore its reputation around how it manages human rights after it destroyed two ancient rock shelters sacred to Australian Aboriginal people for an iron ore mine last May.

Rio, which has board representation on Halco and CBG as well as various shareholder oversight committees, said the two parties reached agreement in December 2020 on ground rules for the mediation process.

In 2018, Human Rights Watch found that CBG and another bauxite producer routinely displaced rural residents from their land to build mines, roads and other infrastructure.

(By Melanie Burton; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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