Monday, April 15, 2013

Save the Wild U.P. Executive Director to represent U.P. activism at Rio Tinto international shareholders meeting Apr. 18

MARQUETTE -- Save the Wild U.P.’s executive director, Alexandra Thebert, will be heading to London to voice community opposition to Eagle Mine at Rio Tinto’s annual shareholders meeting this Thursday, April 18, 2013. She will be the 10th person from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to attend this meeting, drawing attention to the hazards and risks of Eagle Mine to the local community.

Concerned citizens who have previously addressed Rio Tinto's shareholders at their Annual General Meeting include Rev. Jon Magnuson representing 100 leaders from faith-based communities, Cynthia Pryor of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, Carla Champagne of Concerned Citizens of Big Bay, Friends of the Land of Keweenaw member Fran Whitman, law student Meg Townsend, and Keweenaw Bay Indian Community tribal members Susan LaFernier and Jessica Koski.

"I am honored to attend this shareholders meeting to bring representation to thousands of citizens concerned about the hazards and risks associated with Eagle Mine. I hope to represent supporters of our land, water, and of stable economics -- not the booms and busts of mining. We will not 'keep calm and carry on' in the face of sulfide mining," said Thebert. (Photo of Alexandra Thebert, above left, courtesy Save the Wild U.P.)

Thebert will join activists from around the world, including representatives from Oyu Tolgoi Watch (Mongolia), the Arizona Mining Reform Network, IndustriALL, a global union, and others to protest and highlight Rio Tinto's environmental and labor record. This project is made possible by a special fund created by activists in support of this trip.

Margaret Comfort, Save the Wild U.P. president, noted Rio Tinto recently has been laying off local workers at the Eagle Mine and reducing its contractors by 20 percent.

"Yoopers and the Upper Peninsula deserve better," she said.

Cynthia Pryor, who attended the shareholders meeting in 2008 and 2012, added, "On every front this mine threatens the health of our community and the environment. There will be so many issues this year to discuss -- transportation routes, blastomycosis, air and water quality, mine construction delays/layoffs, and now uranium too."*

Richard Solly, coordinator of the London Mining Network, an alliance of human rights, development and environmental groups which works to expose unacceptable mining projects, said Rio Tinto is under the scrutiny of people around the world.

"It has an appalling record of environmental destruction, violation of Indigenous rights, attacks on unions and benefiting from human rights abuses," Solly said. "That is why, every year, people come from across the world to Rio Tinto's shareholders meeting in London to challenge the company over its operations."

Save the Wild U.P. is a grassroots environmental organization dedicated to the preservation of the Upper Peninsula’s unique cultural and natural resources.

* See our May 23, 2012, article on last year's Rio Tinto AGM, "Updated: Big Bay residents report on Rio Tinto AGM in London."

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