In a statement, Chairman Simon Thompson vowed the company would “never again” allow this type of destruction to take place. Rio Tinto has promised to act “in ways that are sensitive and responsive to the values and expectations of Traditional Owners and Indigenous communities.”
The company has an opportunity to make good on that commitment by preventing the destruction of a site considered sacred by Indigenous people here in the United States. Rio Tinto holds controlling interest in Resolution Copper LLC, co-founded with another Anglo-Australian firm, BHP. Resolution Copper is developing a mine in southeastern Arizona to exploit one of the world’s largest-known untapped copper deposits. The copper ore lays under a tranquil, high-elevation expanse known as Oak Flat.
To the nearby San Carlos Apache Tribe, Oak Flat is holy ground. There are ancient petroglyphs on some of Oak Flat’s rock walls. In addition to evidence of shelters and cooking