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What is RTZ Doing in Orissa

What is RTZ Doing in Orissa

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Published by Xavier Dias
Investigation into the activities of RTZ in Orissa. This report was used in the same year to challenge RTZ in their share holders meet in London. Later they withdrew from the area
Investigation into the activities of RTZ in Orissa. This report was used in the same year to challenge RTZ in their share holders meet in London. Later they withdrew from the area

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Published by: Xavier Dias on Jun 11, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/09/2014

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REPORTWhat is RTZ doing in Orissa?
The points given below were collected from information I gathered after visiting the siteof the proposed
Rio Tinto Orissa Mining Limited
 
RTOML
, in the District of Koenjhar, Orissa State, India. By interacting with the village elders, activists of the area,Government officials, Lawyers and Civil Society groups, and looking into old staterecords.The points given below are from my observation, and from the secondary informationgiven to me by the people I interacted with or the source I have quoted. Besides theinformation that OMC (Orissa Mining Corporation) and RTZ (Rio Tinto Zinc) isconducting exploration, THERE IS NO OFFICIAL INFORMATION that the civilsociety groups or the Project Affected People, nor the Government officials I met have been given.On March 17
th
2001 the National Convenor of our National Alliance of Mining AffectedCommunities ‘
mines minerals & People’
 
mm&P
, Ravi Rebapragadda had sent an emailto RTZ requesting detail information of the project, about its mining operations, number of people/villages to be displaced, and information on any other social mitigation.To the above letter RTZ sent a courteous reply, sharing the following information:The Joint Venture exists.1.It has FIPB approval since 1997.2.A pre-feasibility study of the project is being done.3.A preliminary environmental assessment was completed by NEERI (?) in 19994.Resource assessment to date has been conducted by drilling, surface mining and some bulk sampling.5.The company has been working closely with the local communities to keep themaware of the work and use their services where possible.
The letter went on to state that:
6.The decision to build a mine will not be taken until a full feasibility has beencompleted including a definitive environmental report and public hearing.7.They did not know as yet whether any displacement of people would be proposed. If so, agreement would be sought with the affected communities after a full consultation process.
 
mmp/xd Gandarmardhan/rtz rpt April 01
Along with this letter they sent a copy of the extracts of the Rio Tinto Orissa Mining’sBoard approach to community and land matters as adopted in 1998.They also offered further information on request and gave the address of their contact inDelhi.
POINTS FROM THE INFORMATION I GATHERED.
From the information shared by RTZ in the above email regarding Point No:1)I could not get any information to affirm or deny the FIPB approval.2)I suppose that this is being done, and from conclusions I could reach by ‘feasibility’they mean NOT only the quality of the mines but extracting the most out of OMC asOMC is a Company desperate to see this JV (Joint Venture) through.3)I was not able to gather any information about this study. Villagers I met from threevillages and the activists of the area were ignorant of this study. The Forest Ranger of the area, who I met personally, was ignorant of such a study. I suppose a forestRanger should be consulted to ascertain the number of wild life or about the flora andfauna at least4)Yes this is correct and from the information I gathered it has been completed andresults are awaited. For this the Forest department gave them 2.1 hectares of forestland for exploration and constructing an approach road. A mini crushing plantat Danala Village exists (see photos to be sent later) and sample ore in 100-liter drums were sealed and sent to Australia for testing. About a hundred filled drums arestanding awaiting dispatch. The site has a nursery where some ornamental plants are being grown. The Company’s security men guard it. RTZ is looking for 65%+ gradeof iron ore.At Jaggar on top of the mountain a channel (canal) of about 100 meters long and10-12 ft deep was dug up for prospecting purposes. Besides this about 200drillings of 4’ diameter have been completed.It is interesting to note here the Forest Conservation Act of 1980 specificallystates that ‘no mining can be done in Forest Area’ in order to protect our fastdepleting forest area, is being interpreted for the benefit of the Mining Industry tomean that
‘exploration’ can be done
.5)I could not find any person or community of villagers to substantiate this claim.Every one knows about OMC as OMC has another iron ore mine in the adjacent areathat has been in operation for the past ten years. Some have heard about RTZ as a‘white man’s Company’ and in their imagination is just one more in the pantheon of their good and evil spirits, awaiting classification. Regarding Rio Tinto OrissaMining Limited, they only knew of it from the document I showed them sent to mmp by RTZ. RTOML however does maintain an office at Mining Road in the Koenjhar Town. Two functionaries work from there, Sri Lokhon Sarangi an AdministrativeOfficer and Sri Subasish Patnaik a Geologist. They maintain a very low profile, andvolunteer no information.
2
 
mmp/xd Gandarmardhan/rtz rpt April 01
Therefore this claim of 
‘working closely with the local communities to keep themaware of the work’ 
is a myth. Regarding
use their service where possible’ 
unlessthey mean the contract workers employed by labour supply contractor paying wagesfar below the minimum wages, I could not find a single person in the villages I visitednor in the Town among the civil society groups including the lawyers who were ever contacted by the Company or had any firm information about the company.A Mining Company in normal circumstances pays heavy emphasis and budgets for Public Relations. I found no trace of this. The only conclusion I could reach was thatit is the company’s policy to maintain a low profile, while issuing statements fromtheir London office about
 good, long-term and transparent communityrelationships’ 
.6&7) Regarding these two statements of RTZ it is very important to note that since theyhave no information about displacement or the number of people and villages to beaffected it would mean that since 1995, and now after six years of their involvement inthe area, the issue of the affect of the mines on the people is not a conscious concern. Itwould also reflect that RTOML’s feasibility study does not have the ‘social impact’ of their mines as a component of the terms of reference.In the extracts from the Board policies, they have been careful to mention that thefollowing policies are ‘
 fundamental 
’ to long term success:1)Mutual Respect.2)Active Partnership3)Long term commitment
Therefore if the social impact assessment is not fundamental to their ‘feasibility study’,how can it be fundamental in their Board’s policy statement?
We can only logically and rationally conclude that the ‘profitably’ of the mines isfundamental. Once this is established the Mines will be operational come what may.Besides the information above the points below will be of interest.
Keonjhar & Metals:
Today Koenjhar has one of the highest concentrations of mining operations in thecountry. The Gandarmardhan mountain range (3,479-ft) a miscellaneous forest area witha rich bio-diversity, is the southern part of the Bonai range of mountains having reservesof 8000 million tons of untapped iron ore reserves spreading from the District of Singhbhum in Jharkhand to the District of Sunderghar in Orissa. Chromium andManganese are the other minerals being mined here. This whole region was and today ishome to the homelands of the Bhuiyan
 pir 
(homeland), Juang
 pir 
, the later migrants inthe 18
th
Century were the Ho, Santal, Munda, Kharia, Ghonds, and other tribalcommunities.
3

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