Modern Slavery Act

Modern Slavery Act

Modern slavery is an emerging global issue that businesses need to be alert to, and need to be prepared to address.

In 2015, the UK Modern Slavery Act (MSA) came into force to address modern slavery at home and abroad.

It contains a “transparency in supply chains” provision that requires businesses with a global annual turnover of over £36 million, and which “carry on” business or part of a business in any part of the United Kingdom, to publish an annual statement on the steps they have taken to ensure that slavery or human trafficking is not taking place within their own business or across their supply chains.

Inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia

In early 2017 the Australian Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (Committee) launched an inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia. The Inquiry’s Terms of Reference included exploring whether Australia should mandate reporting by Australian businesses on their management of modern slavery risks in their own business and supply chains similar to the United Kingdom’s Modern Slavery Act. Rio Tinto welcomed the opportunity to be part of this discussion and made a formal submission to the Inquiry.

Download Rio Tinto's formal submission 


Our approach

Rio Tinto’s commitment to preventing and addressing any involvement in modern slavery is consistent with the principles outlined in the MSA. Given our size and geographical reach, the challenge of ensuring we avoid any involvement in modern slavery is significant, but we are committed to continuing to evolve our approach to meet developing risks. We recognise that modern slavery is a human rights issue, and we also explore its links to other risks like corruption.

Our Slavery and human trafficking statement describes the steps we took in 2016 to ensure that slavery and human trafficking are not taking place in any part of our business, or in any of our supply chains.

In this statement, we present the policies and standards that contribute to our control framework to respect human rights and reject modern slavery. We outline our due diligence processes, including our “Know your supplier” procedure, which helps identify the potential legal, ethical and reputational risks of engaging or renewing a supplier. We provide examples of how we assess and mitigate modern slavery risks, how we track our performance, and how we raise awareness and build capacity around these issues.

To ensure a robust and coordinated approach, we drafted our statement with specialist human rights support as well as input from a wide range of functions, including Corporate Relations, Procurement, Legal, Human Resources, Investor Relations and Ethics & Integrity. Our statement has been approved by the Rio Tinto board of directors and signed by our chief executive.

Progress through collaboration and continuous improvement

We are not suggesting we have solved all challenges in this complex area. We believe that our policies and processes include important measures which will help us to progress our work, and we welcome multi-stakeholder collaboration to evolve the mining industry’s response to modern slavery. We will continue to join relevant domestic and international discussions to build consistency and continuous improvement across both regulatory and policy options.

For information on our broader human rights approach, read our 2016 Sustainable development report.


people in around 35 countries