For over 40 years, local beekeeper Steve Breckenridge has been working with Rio Tinto to protect bees – and the Kern County, California, environment. But really, it's all about the bees: "It's basically about protection. The bees will literally go anywhere they can find a safe place to live. I've seen a swarm gather round a tank of sulphuric acid, and, in the 1980s, I even found bees at the bottom of the mine pit, under the cab of a working shovel!"
At Rio Tinto, we like our bees. And from wildflowers to almond trees, we also believe deeply in conserving biodiversity. That's why we work with Steve.
Steve's job is to rehouse our California bees so they can first contribute to biodiversity around the mine site. On Boron Operations' 31km2 conservation land, adjacent to the mine, the bees forage on wildflowers, and help to pollinate the local flora. They can later be moved near commercial orchards to pollinate crops like almonds, cherries, plums and avocados.
Steve loves how protecting bees – his life's work – helps the people and environment of Kern County. "It's a beautiful thing when you can get the bees from the site and that can help the conservation land as well, which furthers the environmental work they're doing there at the mine. It completes the circle."
Mines, humans and bees working together to make this corner of the world a little bit better, every day. At Rio Tinto, this is one way we define progress.