Safety issues dominate Rio AGM

RIO Tinto chief executive Tom Albanese received a 31% pay rise at the company’s annual general meeting in Perth last week, while Rio also received criticism over its safety performance in the Hunter Valley.

Blair Price
Safety issues dominate Rio AGM

There was a protest vote of almost 40% from Australian investors, but the overwhelming force of British shareholders approved Albanese’s new salary of 5.5 million pounds ($A8.37 million).

Rio chairman Jan du Plessis fended off criticism by noting that senior figures have not had salary increases for three years, and there is a risk they could be poached.

While critics argue that Rio’s performance is more closely linked to commodity prices than its management, the company’s board is also up for re-election each year, diminishing the significance of shareholder protests against executive pay rises.

Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union northern district vice-president Robin Williams flew over to discuss a “significant number” of accidents and incidents which were missing from Rio’s 2010 annual report.

“In their annual report they are telling shareholders they want to achieve a goal of zero harm, yet what we see at mine sites is starkly different,” Williams said the day after the AGM.

It seemed like half of the AGM was occupied with safety-related discussion, according to a journalist who attended the event, with shareholders also asking questions over these matters.

Albanese noted that some of the biggest safety gains out of Rio’s global operations have been achieved in the Hunter Valley over the last 10 years.

“From one of the least safe parts of Rio Tinto it has become one of the safest parts of Rio Tinto,” he said.

Rio owns 76% of major Hunter Valley open cut miner Coal & Allied.


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