Community relations

Community relations

Forging strong relationships

At Rio Tinto, our business works on long-term horizons. The life cycle of our operations can last for many decades, and our aim is to be a good neighbour to our community stakeholders for the duration. This starts right from the very earliest days – which are often when our exploration teams begin investigating the geology of a new area – to long after the productive life of an operation ends.

All companies depend on the acceptance of local communities for their licence to operate. By building strong and trusting relationships, we strive for communities’ support, and to secure our business for the long term. We can then deliver shared and lasting value for our community partners.

 

Weipa community staff Weipa community staff

Our standard

Our Communities and Social Performance (CSP) standard sets out the requirements that every site must meet, so that we achieve these aspirations.

The standard outlines how we monitor and manage day-to-day impacts and concerns; how we identify and manage social risks; and how we form long-term community agreements.

It also defines what we must do to meet the external commitments that inform our approach. For instance, the things we've agreed to through our membership of the International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM), and through our commitment to the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.

As part of our CSP process, we undertake environmental, economic and social impact assessments, including cultural heritage risk assessments, to understand the implications of our activities and reduce any negative impacts. We address issues including local employment, local economic development, education, cultural heritage and the environment.

Our communities work is internally audited against the standard, and reported to Rio Tinto's Sustainability Committee.

40+

land use agreements

150+

community agreements

Reaching agreement and understanding

Stable, life-of-mine access is fundamental to the success of our business. But many of our operations are located on land that holds particular significance for local communities and land-connected peoples, including Indigenous peoples. To manage these issues and to help with approvals and permits, we form community agreements – based on finding common ground, where both parties benefit. It takes time to negotiate mutual agreements and the process can be as important as the final agreement itself.

Our approach had its beginnings at our operations in Australia, and thanks to the lessons we learned there, we are well placed to rise to the new regulations and greater expectations society has of mining companies today. To date, we have negotiated more than 40 land use agreements and more than 150 community agreements around the world. Following the signing of an agreement with the Banjima people in 2016, we have now signed agreements with all Native Title Claim groups who hold interests in the areas where we operate in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Wherever we operate, we respect the diverse culture, lifestyles, heritage and preferences of our neighbours. We work in partnership with communities to make sure we understand and protect cultural places, objects and practices. Our external commitments also govern our approach to cultural heritage – for instance as a member of ICMM we commit never to explore or mine on a World Heritage property.

We haven’t always got it right, but those occasions have taught us how to be a better neighbour. If disputes arise, we take guidance from those that – in partnership with our community stakeholders – have already been resolved. With a spirit of mutual respect, openness and collaboration, we are confident we can deliver shared value for all parties.