Mining projects and operations are changing the lives, livelihoods and landscape of people connected to the country concerned. Through our agreements, we work closely with host communities to ensure they receive an appropriate share of the benefits. A good utility process precisely determines the legitimate beneficiaries and then delivers equitable benefits by helping the beneficiaries themselves to develop. These agreements were the result of years of in-depth negotiations between the groups represented by YMAC and the Rio Tinto iron ore group. The final agreements give Rio Tinto the security of its existing and future activities in the areas covered by the five national title claim groups. Rio has asked federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley to review a bilateral authorisation agreement between the two governments “as a priority,” as outlined in a letter Guardian Australia has received under freedom of information laws. Since our agreements cover these different aspects of our business, can be developed at different stages of the mine life cycle and are subject to different local and national laws, we do not conduct a single contracting process. However, we follow common principles and commitments: we were proud to be the first mining company in Australia to take the local title on land and enter into agreements with traditional owners. Today, we have many such agreements in the world. As part of the agreements, national title advocacy groups have concluded a number of economic and non-economic benefits.

These include a source of income from mining on their land, training and employment opportunities, access to services contracts for Rio Tinto and support for environmental and heritage activities. Family obligations and other cultural aspects can also increase the level of difficulty in ensuring that meetings have the required quorum. It is important that the company and the WCCCA Executive Office work with representatives and others on these issues. With the power to open all agreements to the control of transparency and fairness, Rio Tinto will only be able to be the industry leader they claim to be. We set up monitoring committees bringing together not only our staff, but also representatives of the Community and independent bodies such as NGOs and experts specialising in the environment and social affairs.