Rio Tinto Group
Rio Tinto, one of the largest mining companies in the world, started out in 1873 as a copper operation in Spain. It now has operations on six continents, with the largest presences in Australia and North America. Its products include aluminum, copper, diamonds, coal, uranium, gold, iron ore, and industrial minerals (borates, titanium dioxide, salt, and talc). Rio Tinto, which has dual headquarters in London and Melbourne, is one of the most controversial corporations in a controversial industry. It has been repeatedly accused of employing harsh labor practices, causing serious environmental harm, and using aggressive methods to take over lands belonging to indigenous peoples. Industry rival BHP Billiton, which launched an effort to take over Rio Tinto in late 2007, finally withdrew its bid in November 2008. In February 2009 Rio Tinto announced plans for a US$20billion capital infusion by the Aluminum Corporation of China, but four months later the deal collapsed in the face of shareholder and political opposition. In July 2009 the Chinese government detained four Rio Tinto employees, accusing them of stealing state secrets and bribery. In March 2010 the employees pleaded guilty to receiving bribes.