Rio Tinto train

Value Chain 

We all want the aluminium in our phone or coffee pod, and the diamond in our ring, to be produced responsibly – from treating people fairly to using water efficiently. At Rio Tinto, we have a product stewardship strategy and programmes that guide our approach to managing regulatory and sustainability risks and opportunities in delivering our product to market. Our programmes address the regulatory requirements of both our host countries and end markets, as well as those that apply during transport.

We also work toward a responsible value chain in other ways.

We respect human rights in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. This includes setting clear expectations of our suppliers, including supporting workers’ rights to belong to a union and to bargain collectively and preventing the use of child and forced labour.

We are taking steps to address the impact of climate change: we have reduced our emissions intensity footprint by 29% since 2008, and today more than 76% of the electricity used across the business is from low-carbon, renewable energy. Our portfolio is well positioned for the transition to a low-carbon economy and we are the only major diversified company in the industry not involved in fossil fuel extraction. 

In 2020, we set out our ambition to reach net zero emissions by 2050, as well as our 2030 targets: to reduce our emissions intensity by 30% and our absolute emissions by 15% (or approximately 4.8mt CO2e). Under these targets, overall, our growth between now and 2030 will be carbon neutral. To help achieve this, we will be investing around $1 billion in climate-related projects over the next five years.  

We also continue to innovate. In 2018, we announced a pioneering new technology partnership with Alcoa, with support from Apple and the governments of Canada and Quebec, to further develop carbon-free aluminium smelting technology – an industry first.

We also worked with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), other aluminium producers, users and stakeholders to launch the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative in 2012, with a commitment to maximise the contribution of aluminium to the development of a sustainable society. The ASI has established an independent, third-party verification of the sustainability of the value chain, including the carbon content. In 2018, we became the first company to be certified under the ASI and, in 2019, we received further ASI certifications for our BC Works and Kemano sites in Canada, our Amrun and Weipa bauxite mines, Yarwun alumina refinery, and our Bell Bay and NZAS smelters in Australia and New Zealand. 

Also in 2019, we partnered with China’s largest steel producer, China Baowu Steel Group, and Tsinghua University, one of China’s most prestigious and influential universities, to work on a joint action plan to explore ways to improve environmental performance across the steel value chain.

Over the past 30 years we have helped drive reform in the diamond industry, not only building the integrity of our own mining practices, but also supporting those we work with to do the same. As a founding member of the Responsible Jewellery Council, we support responsible and ethical social and environmental practices throughout the jewellery supply chain. Today, Rio Tinto diamonds are produced sustainably and managed carefully and responsibly, as is our gold that is produced at Kennecott in Utah, United States.

2019 Performance

In 2019, we continued to improve our Know your Supplier (KYS) processes and extended its scope. As a result, new and existing suppliers in high, very high and tax haven countries must undergo KYS due diligence.

Also in 2019, we introduced a mandatory Know your Customer (KYC) procedure at our product groups, centralising existing KYC due diligence processes. This procedure applies to new customers and primarily focuses on sanctions, money laundering, significant bribery and corruption red flags, fraud and other financial crimes. In 2020, we are extending the scope of this procedure to apply to existing customers in very high risk and tax haven countries.

  • Approximately 9,200 third parties centrally monitored
  • 3,273 due diligence checks completed on third parties
  • Kennecott Utah Copper’s gold recertified under Responsible Jewellery Council Chain-of-Custody standard
  • Kennecott Utah Copper’s gold maintained Responsible Gold certification under London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) responsible gold guidance
  • Kennecott Utah Copper’s silver maintained Responsible Silver certification under LBMA responsible silver guidance

Responsible Sourcing and Supply Chains

In 2019, we saw a steep increase in customer requests for information asking for proof that we are producing minerals and materials responsibly. We continued performing audits that provide reliable information to the responsible sourcing schemes in which we participate, such as the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI). We also engaged with various supply chain initiatives to support their adoption by the mining industry overall. For example, we supported the launch of the ICMM Performance Expectations, which includes 38 requirements on safety, health, environmental, labour rights, communities and transparency. We will begin self-assessments in 2020. We also supported the creation of Copper Mark, a responsible sourcing certification scheme to which members of the International Copper Association will have access.

Our Kennecott Copper Mine is located in Utah, in the US.

  • Kennecott’s gold was recertified under the Responsible Jewellery Council Code of Practices standard, joining Argyle and Diavik as certified assets under this standard, and it maintained a Responsible Gold certification under London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) responsible gold guidance.
  • Kennecott’s silver maintained Responsible Silver certification under LBMA responsible silver guidance
  • Aluminium assets in British Columbia, Canada; Australia; and New Zealand achieved ASI Performance Standard and Chain of Custody certification, joining our Quebec, Canada aluminium assets, which were certified in 2018
  • Our three Canadian mines submitted their annual report under Towards Sustainable Mining, and will undergo third-party verification on the 2019 report in the coming year.

Cyber Security

The need for strong cyber security practices progresses along with the increasingly important role of technology in our business.

In 2019, we worked to better understand how a cyber security breach could affect our operations, as well as have an impact on health and safety as well as the environment. This involved completing risk assessments for some of our most critical assets, including AutoHaul™ and our Aluminium Operational Centre, in the Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean region, in Quebec, Canada. We have more detailed risk assessments planned for our highest value assets in 2020.

9,200

Third Parties Centrally Monitored

3,273

Due Diligence Checks on Third Parties

2019 figures

Knowing Our Suppliers

Our Supplier Code of Conduct sets out our expectations of suppliers and their subsidiaries and subcontractors with respect to key issues, including human rights. It also makes clear that we may choose not to work with suppliers who do not meet our expectations.

Our “know your supplier” (KYS) procedure guides our supplier due diligence processes that help to identify the potential risks of engaging, renewing or extending a relationship with a supplier, whether these risks relate to potential human rights issues, bribery and corruption, money laundering, trade sanctions or denied party transactions. We apply this procedure to all new suppliers meeting the KYS risk criteria, as well as for renewals of contracts and engagements with existing suppliers in higher risk jurisdictions. We perform system-based monitoring on relevant suppliers centrally and where applicable, we keep a close eye on enforcement actions, sanctions-related alerts and significant changes in counterparty data.

Knowing Our Customers

We have a centralised “Know Your Customer” (KYC) procedure to ensure we understand the potential risks regarding our customer relationships, whether they relate to human rights issues including modern slavery, bribery and corruption, money laundering, trade sanctions, denied party transactions, other financial crimes or other reputational risks.

We also look for ways to proactively speak with our customers about sustainability issues. One of the ways we do this is by participating in whole of value chain initiatives – like the ASI.

We also support beneficial ownership disclosure and strive to provide ownership information relating to our joint ventures in line with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Standard and expectations.

Diavik rough diamonds

Leading all Facets of the Diamond Industry

Our diamonds are not just rare and beautiful – they have an honourable pedigree. We want our customers to be confident that the journey their diamond makes from the mine to the market is a worthy one: that landscapes and cultures are treated respectfully, local communities prosper; safe and fair working conditions are provided and that we deal transparently with our industry partners.

We’ve partnered with leading international organisations to ensure the integrity and reliability of the wider diamond industry too. We were a founding member and the first mining company to be certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council, which promotes responsible, ethical, social and environmental practices throughout the diamond, gold and platinum jewellery supply chain.

And we’ve taken an active leadership role in the World Diamond Council, which represents the diamond industry in the Kimberley Process and has established a mechanism for guaranteeing to consumers that diamonds are conflict free.

We were also a founding member of the Diamond Producers Association (DPA), the first organisation to represent diamond producers at an international level. The DPA supports the development of the diamond sector and works to maintain and improve consumer confidence in diamonds.

Cyber security

The need for an approach to strong cyber security practices progresses alongside the increasingly important role technology plays in our business. 

In 2019, we worked to better understand how a cyber security breach could affect our operations, as well as have an impact on health and safety as well as the environment. This involved completing risk assessments for some of our most critical assets, including AutoHaul™ and our Aluminium Operational Centre, in the Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean region, in Quebec, Canada. We have more detailed risk assessments planned for our highest value assets in 2020.