RIO.L - Rio Tinto Group

LSE - LSE Delayed price. Currency in GBp
4,518.00
+59.50 (+1.33%)
As of 2:00PM BST. Market open.
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Previous close4,458.50
Open4,515.00
Bid4,517.00 x 0
Ask4,517.00 x 0
Day's range4,509.50 - 4,554.50
52-week range2,954.00 - 5,152.00
Volume486,775
Avg. volume3,133,194
Market cap75.49B
Beta (5Y monthly)0.66
PE ratio (TTM)9.26
EPS (TTM)487.80
Earnings date26 Feb 2020
Forward dividend & yield3.01 (6.75%)
Ex-dividend date05 Mar 2020
1y target est53.70
  • Why quality and value could drive the Rio Tinto share price higher
    Stockopedia

    Why quality and value could drive the Rio Tinto share price higher

    Quality and value are two of the most important drivers of stock market returns - yet many investors fail to take them seriously. At a time of deep economic un...

  • Rio Tinto cuts reserves at Mongolian copper project as costs rise
    Reuters

    Rio Tinto cuts reserves at Mongolian copper project as costs rise

    Rio Tinto <RIO.AX> on Friday cut estimated reserves at its underground copper mine extension in Mongolia and confirmed it would face delays and higher costs after ground instability forced it to redesign its mine plan. Oyu Tolgoi (OT) is Rio's biggest copper growth project but has faced geological challenges. In July last year, Rio estimated the project's capital cost at $6.5 billion to $7.2 billion, as much as $1.9 billion more than its initial estimate in 2016.

  • Oyu Tolgoi mine design confirms project schedule and cost ranges and update to Ore Reserves and Mineral Resources
    Business Wire

    Oyu Tolgoi mine design confirms project schedule and cost ranges and update to Ore Reserves and Mineral Resources

    Oyu Tolgoi LLC has completed an updated feasibility study (OTFS20) and is in the process of submitting this to the Government of Mongolia. The OTFS20 has been prepared in accordance with Mongolian regulations and standards which require mining companies to submit updated feasibility studies every five years. The updated study incorporates a new mine design for Panel 0 of the Hugo Dummett North underground mine at Oyu Tolgoi. The new design also confirms that the caving method of mining remains valid and that the underground schedule and costs remain within the ranges previously disclosed.

  • A Miner Blew Up Ancient Human History. An Industry May Pay
    Bloomberg

    A Miner Blew Up Ancient Human History. An Industry May Pay

    (Bloomberg) -- Scraping away delicately at the reddish-brown earth of northwestern Australia’s vast Pilbara region, a team of archaeologists uncovered a record of life dating back more 40,000 years. Buried in natural shelters at the base of a cliff were thousands of stone and wooden tools, the sharpened fibula bone of a kangaroo and braided strands of hair.They worked quickly inside the Juukan Gorge rock shelters to recover the artefacts -- and needed to. The team was a salvage squad, sent in with a tight deadline to excavate a site in the path of an encroaching iron ore mine and approved for destruction.Blasts carried out in late May by Rio Tinto Group flattened the features in the central Hamersley Range, more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) northeast of Perth. Now the fallout is mounting for the London-based producer, and new risks are being posed to an iron ore sector that produces Australia’s top export, forecast to generate earnings of A$100 billion ($69 billion) in the year ended June 30.There’s now the prospect of regulatory changes that could introduce additional costs, and make it harder to win approvals to expand existing sites or to construct new operations. Aboriginal Australians, legislators and investors managing trillions of dollars are also united in pressing Rio and its rivals to improve their relationships with Indigenous communities.“Industry-wide social license to operate will be under increasing scrutiny and this could have bearing on costs if it requires changes to mine plans, and the approvals process both here and offshore,” said Camille Simeon, a Sydney-based investment manager for Aberdeen Standard Investments, which holds Rio shares and manages assets worth about $645 billion.The 196,000-square mile Pilbara is Australia’s most valuable iron ore region -- hosting a network of major mines that act as a profit engine for companies including Rio, BHP Group and billionaire Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. It’s also home to Indigenous communities that rank among the nation’s most disadvantaged, an imbalance that’s coming into sharper focus amid a wider investor drive for improved corporate responsibility.Read more: BlackRock’s Fink Tells CEOs to Pursue Purpose Beyond Profits“We’ve seen this with climate, and we’re in the situation now with these emerging issues of First Nations people and First Nations rights,” said Kara Keys, an investment committee member at Australia’s Construction & Building Unions Superannuation fund, which manages about A$56 billion, and a descendant of the Yiman and Gangulu peoples of central Queensland. “The climate debate was a peripheral issue 10 years ago and what we’ve seen is that it’s now a key issue.”There’s likely to be far more scrutiny of mining and energy projects that require cooperation with Indigenous communities, she said. That’s an issue not only for Australia, but for other key resources producing nations including Canada and the U.S.“We want the mining companies we invest in to be companies that everyone trusts,” said Nick Stansbury, head of commodity research at Legal & General Investment Management, which manages more than 1.2 trillion pounds ($1.5 trillion) of assets, including Rio shares.Rio’s Chief Executive Officer Jean-Sebastien Jacques has apologized for distress caused to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura Aboriginal Corporation, the traditional users of the Juukan Gorge sites, and a board-led internal review aims to issue a public report by October. Investors have held a series of meetings with the company’s leadership, including Chairman Simon Thompson, Rio said in a statement.The PKKP, along with four other native title groups in the Pilbara, signed agreements with Rio in 2011 offering support for existing and future iron ore operations. Rio’s detonations in the Pilbara were also legal, authorized by a Western Australia government process used to rule on cases where impacts on Aboriginal sites are deemed unavoidable.Revised laws are expected to bolster protections, and give communities rights to appeal. Of 463 requests made by mining companies since mid-2010, none have been refused, the state’s government said in May.“There are places that are of outstanding importance that really should be protected,” said Fiona Hook, managing director of heritage consultancy Archae-aus and an archaeologist who has worked in the Pilbara region, for clients including Rio Tinto and BHP. “Juukan Gorge is one of those that should have been protected and the legislative process failed.”Consent for Rio to disturb the area was granted in 2013, before excavations the following year uncovered more evidence of the area’s historical significance. Criticism from both investors, and the PKKP, has focused on whether the company should have halted plans after the heritage value became known. BHP has agreed to carry out new consultation on areas at risk of disturbance at its South Flank development.Rio declined 0.8% and BHP was unchanged in Sydney trading Wednesday, as an index of leading Australia-listed energy producers and miners gained 0.8%.All miners need to consider “their existing and future relationships with Indigenous communities,” said Adam Matthews, director of ethics and engagement at the Church of England Pensions Board, who has raised concerns with Rio’s chairman.Approaches to community relations and human rights will shape investment decisions, according to Claudia Kruse, managing director for global responsible investment and governance at APG Asset Management NV, which manages more than 500 billion euro ($565 billion) in pension money. “Company performance on social issues matters,” Kruse said.The New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council, which invests about A$650 million on behalf of its members, has asked fund managers to sell its small position in Rio shares as a result of the Juukan Gorge blasts.“We’re not anti-mining,” CEO James Christian said. “When a company acts to the detriment of Aboriginal people, our culture and heritage, we need to send a very clear message.”(Updates to add share prices in 15th paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Rio Tinto adds a strategy and development role to the executive committee
    Business Wire

    Rio Tinto adds a strategy and development role to the executive committee

    Rio Tinto has added a new role to its executive committee as it considers the next phase of its transformation to reinforce the company’s commitment to strategy, technology and climate change in a new era.

  • BHP Overstayed in Petroleum. Time to Exit
    Bloomberg

    BHP Overstayed in Petroleum. Time to Exit

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- BHP Group’s future can do without hydrocarbons.The world’s largest digger is among the last heavyweights to mix mines with a significant presence in oil, a combination that is becoming harder to justify over the long term. Crude demand will be slow to recover after a pandemic that has kept workers home and jets grounded, and some of that appetite will never come back. Meanwhile, pressure to cut carbon emissions is only increasing. Oil giant BP Plc is the  latest to take a hit, warning it expects impairments and write-offs worth as much as $17.5 billion due to a more gloomy view of what lies ahead. The Big Australian could benefit from a dose of that realism.There is little question that the petroleum division, with assets from Western Australia to the Gulf of Mexico, has generated impressive cash over the years — if you exclude the ill-considered foray into U.S. shale, a $20 billion investment (excluding capital expenditure) much criticized by activist fund Elliott Management Corp. and eventually sold off in 2018. In the six months to December 2019, the unit accounted for about 13% of BHP’s total earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, notching up an impressive 65% margin. Only iron ore, the group’s top earner, was higher, at 69%. Add in low production costs that cushion the blow of 2020’s lackluster oil prices, and it’s easy to see why putting in more cash is tempting when, as analyst Glyn Lawcock of UBS Group AG points out, the miner has few readily available alternative investments.It’s also true that while the medium-term global appetite for oil looks far less certain than it did, there’s a more appealing argument to be made around fading supply. Indeed, the $115 billion miner’s central expectation last year of demand hitting a high point in the mid-2030s now looks bullish, compared to comments from the likes of Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP. A peak even in the middle of this decade, BHP’s low-demand scenario, may prove optimistic. On the production side, though, the miner is right to point out that the industry has been investing less, a trend that will only accelerate after a disastrous 2020 and squeeze future production. BHP has estimated ongoing natural field decline at a rate of 3% to 5% per year.None of this means boss Mike Henry and his team can afford to ignore the signs that this year will prove to be a turning point for oil.Diversification has benefits, but operating synergies between oil and mining are debatable — it’s not an accident that while majors sold out of one or the other, none have returned. As a standalone business, the petroleum division might arguably have ventured less enthusiastically into shale. And the risk today is clear: Staying on can turn into overstaying.Here, Henry can reflect on the experience in thermal coal, where BHP woke up too late. Rival Rio Tinto Group offloaded its last coal mine in 2018, wrapping up a process that began in 2013. BHP held on to decent assets, using up tax losses. It’s now trying to retreat just as Anglo American Plc prepares to hive off its South African coal mines, and interest in the dirty fuel has dwindled. Oil has fewer easy substitutes, but it's conceivable that, with significant changes in policy, crude could be left similarly stranded. Accepting the need for an exit from a business that BHP has been in since the 1960s is only the first step, of course. For one, a carve-out in the mold of coal-to-aluminium producer South32 Ltd., which BHP spun off successfully in 2015, is harder to advocate for oil. The move then was about getting more out of sub-scale operations. In petroleum, BHP is not the operator for many of the assets, making such efficiencies harder to accomplish.BHP can begin by reviewing its portfolio, starting with mature assets in Australia. Partner Exxon Mobil Corp. has said that it’s seeking a buyer for its share of the Gippsland Basin oil and gas development in the Bass Strait; a joint sale with BHP has been considered before. Chevron Corp., meanwhile,  has put  its stake in the giant North West Shelf liquefied natural gas venture on the block. That operation, Australia’s largest LNG project, is shifting from processing its own gas to opening services to new suppliers, a business known as tolling — less suited to either Chevron or BHP. The mining giant has  in any event been less enthusiastic about gas than oil.Granted, even that won’t be easy. Australia churns up a decent amount of revenue, and BHP can argue it is better to continue taking cash now, at the risk of selling for less later. Some investors may agree. A similarly short-term view in the Gulf of Mexico could see it adding to the portfolio as distressed rivals are forced out.For newish boss Henry, though, none of those would look like the decisions of a company preparing for a greener future. He has an opportunity to outline the path to net zero emissions when BHP announces full-year results in August. An exit plan for oil would be one decisive step toward that goal.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Clara Ferreira Marques is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities and environmental, social and governance issues. Previously, she was an associate editor for Reuters Breakingviews, and editor and correspondent for Reuters in Singapore, India, the U.K., Italy and Russia.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Rio Tinto reaches power supply deal with Mongolia for Oyu Tolgoi mine
    Reuters

    Rio Tinto reaches power supply deal with Mongolia for Oyu Tolgoi mine

    The Mongolian state owns 34% in the Oyu Tolgoi project, while Rio's majority-owned Turquoise Hill Resources <TRQ.TO> has a 66% stake in the project. The mining giant said in a statement it will amend its current power supply agreement with Mongolian government by March 2021, under which the government will begin construction of the coal-fired power plant by July 2021.

  • Agreement reached on a preferred long-term power supply for Oyu Tolgoi
    Business Wire

    Agreement reached on a preferred long-term power supply for Oyu Tolgoi

    Rio Tinto, Turquoise Hill and the Government of Mongolia have reached an agreement on the preferred domestic power solution for Oyu Tolgoi that paves the way for the Government to fund and construct a State Owned Power Plant at Tavan Tolgoi.

  • FTSE 100 shares with dividend yields above 5% that I think could help you get richer and retire earlier
    Fool.co.uk

    FTSE 100 shares with dividend yields above 5% that I think could help you get richer and retire earlier

    Andy Ross think these FTSE 100 dividend yields seem safe and could make investors richer in the coming months and years. The post FTSE 100 shares with dividend yields above 5% that I think could help you get richer and retire earlier appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

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  • Will the Rio Tinto share price run continue?
    Stockopedia

    Will the Rio Tinto share price run continue?

    In this article we will quickly re-cap the broker forecasts for Rio Tinto (LON:RIO). The Rio Tinto share price has risen by 5.45% over the past month and it’s...

  • Can Rio Tinto withstand the coronavirus chaos?
    Stockopedia

    Can Rio Tinto withstand the coronavirus chaos?

    Shares in Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) are currently trading at 4470 but a key question for investors is how the economic uncertainty caused by Covid-19 will affect the...

  • Why Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) could be a stock to watch
    Stockopedia

    Why Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) could be a stock to watch

    Given widespread disruption and uncertainty in the stock market, it is more important than ever to find high quality stocks for your portfolio. That means safe...

  • Australia Sacred Sites Seen Remaining Under Threat After Mine Law Reform
    Bloomberg

    Australia Sacred Sites Seen Remaining Under Threat After Mine Law Reform

    (Bloomberg) -- Looming legislative changes aimed at boosting protection for Aboriginal heritage sites in Western Australia are unlikely to prevent their destruction or stymie expansion by mining companies that are under intense pressure over their preservation practices.Rio Tinto Group’s decision last month to carry out explosions that saw the destruction of a 40,000-year-old site in the centre of the nation’s iron ore industry has sparked widespread controversy, scrutiny from investors and calls for legal reform.The new laws will include more precise legal definitions of what constitutes Aboriginal heritage, modified financial penalties for misdemeanors and the encouragement of agreements between Aboriginal people and other land use proponents, according to the state government.While the proposed legislation embodies significant changes on paper, they will do little to prevent miners in practice from getting their way in land rights matters, according to Kate Galloway, an associate professor at Queensland’s Griffith Law School who specializes in land and property rights.‘Be Realistic’“We need to be realistic. I don’t think that is going to stop the destruction of sites,” Galloway said. “The framework of cultural heritage that is in Australia -- without a real shift in political will -- is not going to save these places.”Investors have held meetings with Rio’s Chairman Simon Thompson and executives to raise questions over the producer’s actions, and Australia’s First State Super, which holds about $69 billion in assets, this month removed the company from a socially responsible portfolio option. A parliamentary committee is also scheduled to report to Australia’s Senate by Sept. 30 on Rio’s decision-making. The company reiterated its support for the reform of the legislation.Also this month, rival BHP Group said it won’t disturb indigenous sites identified under a land use agreement at the South Flank iron ore mine without further extensive consultation with traditional landowners after it was granted permission to the land under the current act.“The new Aboriginal heritage legislation that is expected to be released soon for final consultation will cement the rights of Traditional Owners to make their own decisions on their ancient sites,” Western Australian Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt said in a statement. “While there may be rare occasions where the interests of the state exceed those of the relevant Aboriginal people, I will continue to support agreements made by Traditional Owners.”Draft BillDrafting of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2020 is slated for completion before the end of the year. Rio’s explosions were authorized by the state government under a system used to rule on situations where impacts on Aboriginal sites are deemed unavoidable.Competing land rights, afforded to miners, and cultural rights, afforded to traditional landowners, share fundamental incompatibilities that make disputes difficult to reconcile, Galloway said. While landowners will be more involved in the decision-making process under the proposed legislation, miners can still refuse their requests because -- ultimately -- they still have the right to use that land, she said.The issue of ownership rights to the land can’t be resolved “unless you say to miners -- these parts are quarantined, you can’t blast them,” she said. “I would be extremely surprised if there were a blanket prohibition on the destruction of these sites.”Appeal AvenueThe controversial Section 18 of the original act -- that gives companies with mining rights permission to damage a site and prevents any avenue for appeal -- would have to be changed not only to give a right to appeal decisions, but to remove altogether the right to destroy sites, she said.Rio, the world’s second-biggest mining company, has voiced support for state heritage law reform following the blasts in the Juukan Gorge area to facilitate mining at its Brockman 4 operation. Chief Executive Officer Jean-Sebastien Jacques also has apologized for distress caused to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people, the traditional owners of the land.Last week, the company launched a review into its heritage management processes within iron ore business, focusing on recommending improvements to the effectiveness of its internal processes and governance.The proposed laws may introduce some procedural hurdles for miners -- if consultation processes with Aboriginal communities drag out, and if there is a greater requirement for more robust justification of destruction at cultural sites, Galloway said. “Companies are already doing that,” she said. “I don’t see that it will be that much much harder for them.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Rio Tinto launches board-led review into sacred caves blast
    Reuters

    Rio Tinto launches board-led review into sacred caves blast

    Rio Tinto on Friday launched a board-led review into how the miner destroyed two ancient and sacred Aboriginal caves in Western Australia, stepping up its response to the blasts after weeks of public criticism and shareholder dismay. In his first comments since the caves were destroyed in late May, Rio Tinto Chairman Simon Thompson apologised to present day traditional owners of the land and pledged to make public the review's findings, due in October. With state government approval, the world's biggest iron ore miner destroyed two caves at Juukan Gorge, one of which had contained evidence of continual human habitation stretching back 46,000 years, as part of a mine expansion.

  • Rio Tinto announces details of board-led heritage process review
    Business Wire

    Rio Tinto announces details of board-led heritage process review

    Rio Tinto has launched a board-led review of its heritage management processes within Iron Ore following the events at Juukan Gorge, with a focus on recommending improvements to the effectiveness of its internal processes and governance.

  • The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: VALE, BHP, RIO and FSUGY
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    The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: VALE, BHP, RIO and FSUGY

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  • Bloomberg

    Australia’s Pension Giant Pressing Rio Over Heritage Site Blasts

    (Bloomberg) -- Australia’s biggest pension fund said it is pressing Rio Tinto Group on the destruction of a 40,000-year-old Aboriginal heritage site, though isn’t yet contemplating selling down its stake in the world’s second-biggest miner.“I don’t think we’re at that position yet, the company has been listening,” Mark Delaney, chief investment officer of AustralianSuper Pty. told Bloomberg’s ‘Inside Track’ webinar on Tuesday. “They have been quite approachable about the issue and we are working through the issue with them.”The fund, which holds about A$165 billion ($115 billion) of assets, has had two or three meetings with members of Rio’s senior management and board on the issue, Delaney said. It’s also working with other mining companies to ensure they don’t take similar action that damages or destroys heritage sites.“We’ll be very keen to make sure there aren’t issues like this re-occurring in Rio or in other companies,” Delaney said.Rio is scrambling to address the fallout from a decision last month to carry out explosions in the Juukan Gorge area of Western Australia’s Pilbara region to facilitate mining at its Brockman 4 operation. The blasts destroyed rock-shelters that may have been occupied by humans as long as 46,000 years agoRead More: Rio Hit With Investor Action, Inquiry on Aboriginal Site BlastInvestors have held meetings with Rio’s Chairman Simon Thompson and executives to raise questions over the producer’s actions, and Australia’s First State Super, which holds about $69 billion in assets, last week removed the company from a socially responsible portfolio option. A parliamentary committee is also scheduled to report to Australia’s Senate by Sept. 30 on Rio’s decision-making.Rio, which is carrying out its own review of its heritage approach, has apologized to the traditional landowners, the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura Aboriginal Corp., though previously also said concerns about the planned blasts had not arisen through community engagements over many years.The explosions were authorized by Western Australia’s government under a system used to rule on situations where impacts on Aboriginal sites are deemed unavoidable.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Is a 46,000-Year-Old Site Less Sacred Than Profits?
    Bloomberg

    Is a 46,000-Year-Old Site Less Sacred Than Profits?

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- It seemed like an incident from another era. Rio Tinto Group last month demolished a 46,000-year-old site sacred to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura peoples to make way for an expansion of its Brockman 4 mine in Australia’s iron-rich northwestern Pilbara region. The act has been likened to the destruction of Palmyra by the Islamic State.It wasn’t only the Juukan Gorge caves that were blasted, though. Such a blithe act, and management’s subsequent inability to explain it, has undermined the decades Rio Tinto spent presenting itself as the socially responsible face of the mining industry.How could such an event happen? If you see mining companies the way they like to present themselves — as benevolent middle men, aiding the economic development of formerly colonized peoples while providing materials for the industrial development of the planet — then it’s inexplicable that they could display such indifference at a site nearly three times as old as the Lascaux Caves.That’s mostly a story for the cover of the corporate responsibility report.While mining companies employ plenty of people sincerely committed to land rights and no doubt believe much of their own rhetoric, a middle man isn't working for the sake of his suppliers or customers —he’s trying to maximize his own returns. When you’re dividing up the pie from selling mineral products, any cash spent giving landowners just compensation is money that’s not going to shareholders.Rio Tinto has spent decades burnishing a reputation for treating landowners better than some of its peers — but it’s a lot easier to be the good guy when the deck is so heavily stacked in your favor.As in many parts of the former British Empire, ownership of land in Australia was transferred to the Crown by a legal fiction upon European invasion in 1788. Until the middle of the 20th century, Aboriginal people in remote areas often worked as ranchers or servants in return for tobacco, sugar, tea and clothing — conditions not many rungs above slavery(2). The current disparate Indigenous Australian land-rights regimes were established from the 1970s to the 1990s against that backdrop. Despite the triumphs of figures such as Vincent Lingiari and Eddie Mabo in using strikes, political appeals and legal cases to win formal rights over land, campaigners have always had to fight off the back foot. The result isn’t hard to see on a visit to an outback Aboriginal community. Despite the fact that such areas host some of the world’s most lucrative mines, Indigenous Australians die about 14 years younger than their non-indigenous neighbors in remote areas. In the most isolated regions, they’re paid just 28 cents for every dollar earned by others and four out of 10 households are overcrowded.I’m from the U.K., where landowners still form an aristocracy that includes many of the country’s richest people. It’s depressing that as a migrant to Australia, I’m better off than most of the traditional owners(3) on whom this country’s wealth was built. This manifest injustice is explained in a variety of ways. Legally, land rights for Indigenous Australians are considered to have been “extinguished” if they were driven off their land in the past to make way for ranching, mining, real estate or infrastructure. That formula, one of the cornerstones of the country’s so-called native title system, bestows a blessing on a historical act of theft, rather than seeking to redress it.Politically, the miserable conditions that prevail in many remote Aboriginal communities are blamed on social breakdown and the perception (often justified) that money spent on Indigenous advancement has been wasted on corruption and mismanagement — in essence, blaming Indigenous people for their own dispossession and exploitation.For all that such problems are attributed to a surfeit of “welfare,” though, Australia spends just A$3.3 billion ($2.26 billion) a year on Indigenous-specific government programs, with much of that budget dedicated to closing inequalities in education and health. That’s far less than the A$14 billion or so a year that state and territory governments get from mining royalty payments. A first step toward reversing this would acknowledge the immense damage that mining and industry can do to landscapes that are an essential part of the world’s cultural legacy. Aboriginal people were the first to colonize a new continent by sea, and were grinding seeds for flour and stone to make ax-heads 20,000 years before the same technologies helped kick-start the agricultural revolution in the Fertile Crescent. At Murujuga near the Pilbara iron ore port of Karratha, a nominated world heritage site hosts more than a million petroglyphs — including depictions of extinct megafauna and the oldest carved images of human faces — hard against an LNG terminal, explosives factory and fertilizer plant.The destruction of the Juukan Gorge caves wasn’t an isolated incident. The Pilbara is thick with such cultural artifacts. A few days later, BHP Group received approval from Western Australia’s government to demolish 40 sites. Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. is seeking similar permission to expand its Solomon mine, where excavated sites include a cave whose occupation dates back 60,000 years.The solution isn’t to stop mining. In communities that have suffered neglect by the state, these companies are often welcomed as the only partners in economic development — but the current regime is clearly not working for traditional owners. What resources companies have always sought is a “social license to operate.” For too long, though, those notional licenses have been handed out in return for relatively paltry royalty payments, often in the form of in-kind agreements to employ local workers and provide health, education and infrastructure that the state fails to fund properly.What's needed is legal and political change. Australia’s native title laws skew the playing field in favor of resources companies, and must be reformed to give local communities rights to a larger share of the billions of dollars their land produces. The deal that South Australia state recently handed out to mostly white farmers with little fanfare — a cash royalty on new gas production equivalent to about 1% of the sale price — is the sort of settlement that many Aboriginal groups have fought and failed to win through decades of court battles.There are signs that change may be afoot. Australia’s High Court last month denied an appeal by Fortescue against a 2017 judgment, ensuring the Yindjibarndi people would hold a form of native title close to freehold land ownership. That precedent should strengthen the hand of Indigenous groups in negotiating with mining companies in the future.A separate judgement last year also gave more guidance for how the value of native titles should be assessed, and found it to be substantially above the sort of sums that have typically gone to title-holders. If similar payments were assessed for even just 5% of native title land, traditional owners would be entitled to some A$280 billion, according to one analysis of the case by law firm MinterEllison.In the Australian context, such enormous numbers are generally regarded as evidence that Indigenous land claims are politically impractical. In fact, they’re a small demonstration of the scale of what has been stolen. It’s well past time for those rights to be restored.(1) In some cases such "stolen wages" practices went on until the 1970s. After the 1950s notional cash salaries were normally paid, though often they were credited to trust accounts that Indigenous workers couldn't easily access, and that governments often plundered for unrelated spending.(2) The term "traditional owners" is used in Australia to encompass Indigenous people with freehold ownership of their land, as in parts of the Northern Territory; those who have more limited rights after winning native title cases; and those who haven't won any formal legal recognition of their land rights, as in most urban areas.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.David Fickling is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities, as well as industrial and consumer companies. He has been a reporter for Bloomberg News, Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the Guardian.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Rio Tinto chief says sorry for sacred caves blast; Australia starts inquiry
    Reuters

    Rio Tinto chief says sorry for sacred caves blast; Australia starts inquiry

    "We are very sorry for the distress we have caused the PKKP in relation to Juukan Gorge and our first priority remains rebuilding trust with the PKKP," Jacques said in a statement, referring to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) people. With state government approval, the world's biggest iron ore miner destroyed two caves at Juukan Gorge that had previously contained evidence of continual human habitation stretching back 46,000 years as part of its Brockman mine expansion in the iron-rich Pilbara region. Amid heightened global awareness over the treatment of minorities sparked by Black Lives Matter protests around the world, the apology marked Rio CEO Jacques' first public comments on the event since it occurred more than two weeks ago.

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