Rio Tinto’s diamond project in India wins social awareness award
Rio Tinto has received an award for its significant work in building social capacity in communities surrounding its developing Bunder diamond project in India. The 2010-2011 Sitaram Rungta Social Awareness Award is conferred by the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI).
The annual award recognises leadership in corporate social responsibility practices in the Indian mining industry, encompassing both social and environmental performance. This is the first time FIMI has granted a Social Awareness Award to a pre-mining project rather than an established mining operation.
Rio Tinto Diamonds managing director Bruce Cox said "We are honoured and proud to receive this prestigious award and wish to pay particular thanks to our workforce, community team and FIMI for their tireless support.
"Rio Tinto aims to set a new benchmark for mine development in India and has constructively engaged with local communities from its earliest days of exploration.
“For the past six years we have been actively working with local communities to understand how we can contribute to their ongoing development. Rio Tinto has a strong track record for social capacity building in the regions around the world in which it operates. We recognise that significant obligations are attached to accessing land for mining purposes.”
Rio Tinto first discovered diamond deposits in the Chhatapur District of Madhya Pradesh in 2004 and subsequent economic viability studies have shown that an open pit mine could operate at a production rate that would place Madhya Pradesh in the top ten diamond producing regions of the world.
FIMI Sustainable Mining Initiative chief executive officer K.P. Nyati said "I am encouraged by the quality of the work witnessed this year.
"A rigorous and independent process is followed to verify the claims made by the winning organisations and an award is only made once the jury has taken all information into consideration and determined that the winner is truly worthy.
“Having witnessed the programmes of this year’s winners for which they are recognised today, I congratulate them for their contribution to promoting sustainable mining practices. In doing so they are helping to change the perception of our industry and bring recognition for the positive, long lasting benefits that mining can bring to communities throughout the country.”
The Bunder Project has a dedicated team that consults with local communities to determine their needs and priorities. It has also developed partnerships with both local and international capacity building organisations, such as UNICEF, to provide the insight and expertise needed to deliver programs on the ground. Areas being targeted included health and education services, training and employment, sustainable agricultural practices and water resource management.
Bunder Project director Stefanie Loader said "Social and community development work has been happening at a range of levels and across a range of issues, initially focusing on the needs of women and children.
"Workshops have been held with women from local villages to discuss a range of topics associated with health, nutrition, childcare and employment, including how flexible working arrangements with Rio Tinto can be a catalyst for women’s employment in the region.
“We have also been instrumental in developing a driver training programme for women, working with local schools and in developing a travelling AIDS awareness show. We have a great opportunity here to add real value to these communities.”
FIMI has a membership of around 350 organisations involved in mining and mineral processing. Its annual awards are decided by an esteemed panel of independent judges.
About Rio Tinto
Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group headquartered in the UK, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London and NYSE listed company, and Rio Tinto Limited, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.
Rio Tinto’s business is finding, mining, and processing mineral resources. Major products are aluminium, copper, diamonds, energy (coal and uranium), gold, industrial minerals (borax, titanium dioxide, salt, talc) and iron ore. Activities span the world but are strongly represented in Australia and North America with significant businesses in South America, Asia, Europe and southern Africa.
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