Rio Tinto Spear­heads En­vi­ron­men­tal Ini­tia­tives In MP

Solitaire - - SPECTRUM -

Rio Tinto an­nounced a new part­ner­ship aimed at pro­tect­ing In­dia’s crit­i­cally en­dan­gered vul­ture species and main­tain­ing the bio­di­ver­sity of the Mad­hya Pradesh re­gion of In­dia.

In the first ever part­ner­ship of its kind in the min­ing in­dus­try in In­dia, Rio Tinto has signed a me­moran­dum of agree­ment with the Bom­bay Nat­u­ral His­tory So­ci­ety to sup­port a num­ber of wildlife man­age­ment ini­tia­tives over a five-year pe­riod.

Dr Nik Se­na­p­ati, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Rio Tinto In­dia, said, “The neg­a­tive ef­fect of the de­clin­ing vul­ture pop­u­la­tion on the econ­omy, pub­lic health and cul­ture in In­dia can­not be un­der­es­ti­mated. Rio Tinto is de­lighted to part­ner with the es­teemed Bom­bay Nat­u­ral His­tory So­ci­ety and we look for­ward to a long and fruit­ful col­lab­o­ra­tion.”

Vul­tures are a crit­i­cal part of the food chain. By re­mov­ing rot­ten meat and bones they main­tain a bal­anced ecosys­tem and pre­vent the un­nec­es­sary spread of dis­ease. The dra­matic de­cline in the In­dian vul­ture pop­u­la­tion is di­rectly linked to an­i­mal hus­bandry prac­tices, namely the use of the painkiller, Di­clofenac, to treat cat­tle. This painkiller poi­sons the vul­tures when they eat the car­casses of cat­tle. In un­der a decade vul­ture num­bers in In­dia have de­creased by up to 99%, the fastest de­cline of any bird ever re­ported.

The cen­tral In­dian state of Mad­hya Pradesh, home to Rio Tinto’s de­vel­op­ing Bun­der di­a­mond project, has a thriv­ing pop­u­la­tion of birdlife and is a nat­u­ral habi­tat for vul­tures. To­gether with Birdlife In­ter­na­tional and the Bom­bay Nat­u­ral His­tory So­ci­ety, a 100 km vul­ture “safety zone” will be es­tab­lished in Mad­hya Pradesh. The ex­pec­ta­tion is that this will pro­tect wild vul­tures and in the fu­ture, vul­tures from cap­tive breed­ing cen­tres in In­dia could be rein­tro­duced into the wild. Over time, this would re­vert back to be­ing a self-sup­port­ing pop­u­la­tion.

Tarun Malkani, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of Rio Tinto Di­a­monds in In­dia, said, “Rio Tinto is play­ing a leading role in help­ing de­ter­mine how wildlife must be pro­tected. This part­ner­ship is a re­flec­tion of our long-term com­mit­ment to Mad­hya Pradesh and the way we work with the govern­ment, lo­cal part­ners and in­dus­try ex­perts.”

The Bun­der di­a­mond project is ex­pected to place Mad­hya Pradesh in the top ten di­a­mond pro­duc­ing re­gions of the world. Mine plan ap­proval was ob­tained in July 2013 and Rio Tinto is now work­ing on the en­vi­ron­men­tal and forestry ap­provals re­quired to ex­e­cute a min­ing lease.

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