Asbestos found at Rio Tinto’s iron ore mine in Australia
The West Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum is investigating evidence of an asbestos contamination at Rio Tinto’s West Angelas iron ore mine, in the Pilbara region.According to ABC News, global miner Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) has confirmed the presence of brown asbestos found last month in landfill materials brought in from the nearby Holcim quarry at Newman.A Rio Tinto spokeswoman says exposure levels were below the occupational exposure limit and employees were immediately informed.The Holcim quarry has voluntarily shut down its operations.BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP) has also reportedly suffered from an asbestos contamination at its Jimblebar iron ore mine. According to the CFMEU it has been investigating worker claims of asbestos contamination, stating that workers may be exposed at the site."The mine itself has been made aware; their position on the subject was until they receive confirmation from further testing, they were going to continue to use this," CFMEU safety officer Steve McCann told ABC. In a separate development, Canadian news outlet Postmedia News has discovered that federal government officials acknowledged the dangers of chrysotile asbestos at least a decade ago, but continued to rally to keep the material off the Rotterdam Convention’s hazardous material list, striving to maintain a healthy export business for the many asbestos mines in Quebec.The article quotes a a memo to Environment Minister Peter Kent, obtained via the Access to Information Act, which showed the scientific panel for the UN’s Rotterdam Convention was on solid ground in 2002 when it first proposed the listing of chrysotile asbestos, a known carcinogen mined in Quebec, as a hazardous material on Annex III of the convention.