Environmental stewardship

As a company built on harvesting and sharing natural resources, Rio Tinto Minerals recognizes a special obligation to respect the natural environment. We work to continually reduce our environmental footprint and promote sustainability throughout our operations, while minimizing our impact on air, water and land.

We work closely with environmental specialists and regulators to ensure we incorporate best practices, and regularly record our progress toward meeting our conservation goals. Some encouraging examples of recent environmental progress:

  • In 2010, we reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 3 percent per ton of product, and kept energy use flat through more efficient equipment and practices.
  • In our Boron Operations, we recently lowered energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by more than 5 percent per ton of product through improvements in plant design and maintenance practices. We also reduced our water consumption by millions of gallons through better water recycling.

Below are our focus areas for improving environmental stewardship:

Energy use and emissions
Lowering our energy use and emissions are important goals. We invest in more efficient equipment and practices to meet reduction targets; our current target is to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas creation by 2 percent per ton of product between 2009 and 2013. We also promote borates' use in wind and solar energy systems, biofuel production, and energy-efficient buildings and industrial processes.

Land use and biodiversity
Mining operations don't last forever. Once work at any of our sites is complete, we strive to return the land to its natural state with zero net impact on biodiversity. In 2009, we set a new target to restore one acre of land for every acre we disturb through 2013.

Water use
Mining and processing borates requires significant amounts of water, making recycling and management efforts a priority. Ongoing reduction efforts include using recycled water to control dust on our California haul roads.

Waste management
We have established procedures around the world to reduce, reuse, and recycle waste produced at our operations and our offices. Our Boron site has been repeatedly honored with the Solid Waste Reduction Awards from the California Integrated Waste Management Board.

Download Rio Tinto Minerals Sustainability Policy [PDF: 59 KB]