Sacred Apache site litigation affects mining behemoth Rio Tinto
In the center of Arizona is the tranquil Oak Flat upland.
It is a well-liked location for campers, hikers, and rock climbers because of its gorgeous peaks and forest.
Above all, it serves as the San Carlos Apache tribe’s religious center, a place of worship where their gods still reside and where they continue to hold customary ceremonies.
However, Rio Tinto, a massive company listed on the FTSE 100, and the tribe are currently at odds over it.
The mining group’s claims that it is steadfastly committed to respecting sacred sites are also shaping up to be put to the test.
It is the “most sacred site where we connect with our creator, our faith, our families, and our land,” says Wendsler Nosie Sr. of the Apache Stronghold, a coalition of Apaches and non-Apache supporters who are bringing the case.
“It is a place of healing that has been sacred to us since long before Europeans arrived on this continent,” the speaker asserts.
Members of the famously led by Geronimo tribe in the 19th century have compared it to Mount Sinai and described the rock carvings and paintings as the ghosts and footprints of their ancestors.
In 1955, President Eisenhower issued an executive order prohibiting mining in Oak Flat, which is located in the Tonto National Forest 60 miles from Phoenix, the state capital.
But since 2004, Rio Tinto and fellow mining company BHP have fought bitterly against the community through their joint venture, Resolution Copper, to gain access to the metal beneath Oak Flat.
In the near future, the project will be at the center of a Supreme Court case that could further damage Rio’s already damaged reputation.
The company was the target of international outrage after it destroyed two sacred Aboriginal caves in Western Australia that were 46,000 years old two years ago in order to expand a profitable iron ore mine, despite knowing about their archaeological and spiritual significance.
Following the destruction, a parliamentary inquiry was conducted in Australia, heritage laws were reviewed, and the board of directors was cleared out, including the then-CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques.
The company’s chairman, Simon Thompson, made a commitment to “never again” desecrate holy places, and the new CEO, Jakob Stausholm, has made it a priority to look into the toxic workplace environment.
However, the plight of the Apache tribe appears to run counter to these objectives.
The type of mining that Resolution Copper plans to employ, according to the company, could lead to a crater that is almost two miles wide.
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