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03_BOSS_Case Studies_24-28.indd 25 25 9/9/09 7:09:51 AM
9/9/09 7:09:51 AM RIO TINTO:
Mining the Social Dimensions of Its Vast Operations
Backstory: Given its business of mining over 5 million tons of rock a day, Rio Tinto has a big footprint.
The mines are expensive, take decades to develop fully, and are not portable if something goes wrong.
To reduce the political and economic risk and thus ensure steady returns, Rio Tinto has sought to win the
backing of local communities, governments, and the society in which it operates.
Challenge: How does a company obtain a “social license” to operate, and nurture the local labor force that
Key moves: About a decade ago, Rio Tinto came up with the concept of working within communities
on outreach and social and economic development. At the time, the company was developing a mine in
Madagascar that was a source of contention with NGOs, which were worried about threats to biodiversity
and the local community. Ninety percent of the island had already been cleared by farming, grazing, and
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- Spring '14
- Business, MIT Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT Sloan Management Review, sustainability initiative, 01_BOSS_Sustainability Report_1-16.indd Sec2