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Rio Tinto partnership

Visiting Namibia's uranium mines
Written by: Pippa Howard
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Rio Tinto and FFI work in partnership to implement best practice and strive to implement effective mitigation to avoid, minimise, rehabilitate and offset inevitable environmental impacts.

This approach builds upon the foundations established by the partnership over the last 10 years and reflects the desire to continually push the boundaries of institutional best practice through pioneering biodiversity conservation and sustainable livelihoods initiatives.

Strategic objectives

The FFI-Rio Tinto partnership encompasses three high-level objectives:

1. Improve biodiversity performance at Rio Tinto mining operation sites;

2. Leverage change within the mining and related government sectors for improved biodiversity conservation and livelihoods; and

3. Value natural capital.

Net Positive Impact

Rio Tinto has made a commitment to have a Net Positive Impact (NPI) on biodiversity.  It was the first, and still is the only, company to do so in the extractive sector.

The partnership with FFI is helping the company to work towards this ambitious goal. Achieving NPI means the company has followed the mitigation hierarchy to avoid, minimize, rehabilitate and offset any negative impacts of its operations, plus carried out extra activities that protect biodiversity.

Rio Tinto and FFI are at the forefront of the practical application of this new and exciting concept.

Change within Rio Tinto

FFI is working to raise awareness of biodiversity and ecosystem services at the corporate and operational level within Rio Tinto. The partnership has been crucial in developing Rio Tinto’s Biodiversity Strategy and the two organisations are now working at a Site level to implement NPI.

Our experts contribute technical input into Rio Tinto’s operations through biodiversity research and assessment. Most importantly, FFI and Rio Tinto are working together to carry out Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs) at three Rio Tinto mines: Rössing Uranium (Namibia), Palabora Mining Company (South Africa) and Richard’s Bay Minerals (South Africa).

Lessons learned from these sites will inform the BAP process at further sites and assist Rio Tinto to reach its goal of achieving a NPI on biodiversity at all of its sites worldwide.

Valuing nature and influencing the sector

FFI is also undertaking research to assess the value to shareholders of Rio Tinto’s biodiversity strategy and NPI commitment.

The strategy is expected to add value in a variety of ways, for example, improving access to land and resources, capital and insurance, ‘human capital’, and markets for reliably sourced products (and associated price premiums), reducing business risks and liabilities, as well as providing reputational and brand value benefits.

FFI and Rio Tinto see our partnership as a model for others to follow. We are raising the standards for other mining companies and sharing our results.

Rio Tinto supports FFI’s engagement with the International Council on Mining and Metals, a key forum for effecting change in the extractive sector.

The Partnership has also been influential in our wider involvement in Landscape Level Planning in Namibia’s uranium-rich Erongo Province, home to Rio Tinto’s Rössing Uranium mine. FFI is working with the Ministry of Mining and Environment to minimise the impacts of the country’s uranium mining.

Written by
Pippa Howard

Pippa Howard is the Director of the Business & Biodiversity Programme. Pippa has degrees in Environmental Science, Marine Biology, Zoology and Development Management. She is a registered Professional Natural Scientist with over 20 years experience in a variety of spheres of biodiversity conservation, environmental management, impact assessment, development and sustainability. She has worked on projects in the UK, Ireland, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Ecuador, Alaska, Italy, Brazil, Indonesia, Liberia, Guinea, Chile, Spain, Bulgaria, Sultanate of Oman, Indonesia and Singapore. Pippa directs and is responsible for FFI's initiatives and partnerships with multinational corporations and all corporate affairs. She plays a key role in developing business and biodiversity strategy, business plans and financial management; provides specialist input to cross-sector partnerships and multidisciplinary programmes in biodiversity conservation; is a specialist in extractives sector environmental management, biodiversity risk assessment, action planning and management and biodiversity offsets design, management and implementation. Pippa also sits on a number of sectoral initiatives (BBOP, ICMM, GRI, IPIECA) and biodiversity advisory committees of extractive sector companies (De Beers, Rio Tinto, Nexen, Areva).

Other posts by Pippa Howard
Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is a company limited by guarantee, incorporated in England and Wales, Registered Company Number 2677068. Registered Charity Number 101110
Fauna & Flora International Australia (Ltd) is a company limited by guarantee, and recognised as a Charitable Institution (ABN 75 132 715 783, ACN 132715783)
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