4th June 2021
Happy Friday, everyone!
It’s time to reflect briefly on ethics in mining. Last year Rio Tinto blew up the priceless Juukan Gorge rock shelters in Western Australia, which were significant points of cultural heritage for the local Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) people, as well as Australia as a whole. If you want to read more about the events around it and the fallout, check out my article from last October here. Now, Rio has announced the appointment of Ben Wyatt, a former WA government minister with Yamatji indigenous heritage who was critical of the Juukan incident, as a non-executive director. Ben Wyatt is surely qualified for the position, but it’s also clearly something of a mea culpa from Rio and an attempt to bring more indigenous representation into the fold to stave off public relations catastrophes like Juukan Gorge.
This got me wondering – Ben Wyatt is an accomplished and successful politician and business man, which is a far cry from the lives led by many indigenous people in Australia, especially those living in remote communities in the mining regions of the country. What is the best way to improve relations with local communities in fraught cases like this? I’m not sure how much the PKKP people can trust that a man with a lucrative career to build and maintain will fight too hard for their interests, his indigenous heritage notwithstanding. It is surely a great thing to have broader representation on the boards of large companies like Rio, and Ben Wyatt seems like a very capable person, but perhaps the more important moves that Rio has made have been things like assurances that it will not enforce gag clauses on local communities raising heritage concerns. This puts a little power back in the hands of often-disenfranchised communities that have real stakes in the mining activities on their land, instead of concentrating it in distant board rooms.
I’m happy that Ben Wyatt has been appointed, like I said I think it’s overall a good thing, but to me the real assurances that Juukan Gorge will not be repeated will come when companies start taking the concerns of local communities, as well as academics and heritage experts, much more seriously. Rio has made some good moves in this regard, so I suppose we can only wait and see.
Around the Traps
Have you heard about the Spotlight Mining Stockpick Challenge? If you think you have an eye for mining stocks, head over here to nominate your three best mining stocks for the month of June. There are weekly and monthly prizes to win for the best performing stocks, and of course the coveted wooden spoon for the investor with the worst picks of the month.
Global Energy Metals (TSXV:GEMC, OTC:GBLEF, FSE:5GE1) has used the cash windfall from its popular private placement to fund drilling at a second target at its Lovelock Mine and Treasure Box project. The application is in to drill at the Treasure Box target, with proposed drilling increasing from 1,400 m to 2,100 m. Read the news release here.
Mountain Boy Minerals (TSXV:MTB, OTCQB:MBYMF, FSE:M9UA) has announced plans to begin exploration on its Southmore Project in British Columbia’s Golden Triangle, with the first stage being airborne geophysics, followed by ground-truthing field work.
Goldplay Mining (TSXV:AUC) has one eye on the future with the creation of an advisory board headed by Walter Coles Jr., CEO of Skeena Resources, accompanied by Jorge Ramiro, CEO of Reyna Silver and Adam Travis, CEO of Roughrider Exploration. Goldplay CEO Catalin Kilofliski says the advisory board will help it achieve its ambitious growth objectives.
That's all for this week, have a good weekend!
- Jane Lockwood