Letters to Billiton
Thank you for this. It's been duly noted. Please pass it on that we are a British - and not South African - company!Regards
Senior Manager Corporate Affairs
From: Zoltán Grossman mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
To: Marc.Gonsalves@bhpbilliton.com; email@example.com;
October 30, 2000
NADER CALLS ON SOUTH AFRICAN COMPANY BILLITON TO DROP CRANDON MINE PLANS IN WISCONSIN
Thank you for your letter of 1st October regarding the Crandon project in Wisconsin. I have taken careful note of your comments, and also of your concluding advice. You will appreciate that we are now only at the stage of completing the Rio Algom acquisition. Once that has been done, we shall undertake a detailed appraisal of various assets, including the Crandon project. We shall keep in mind your comments, and those made by other interested parties, as we go through that process.
In the meantime, I would like to assure you that Billiton is committed to developing the projects in accordance with legislative requirements, and only after thorough environmental impact studies to the highest international standards. Naturally we wish to develop projects which have strong community support, and therefore we seek to engage with interested parties on the concerns that they may have.
I hope this is helpful, and a useful base for future dialogue.
Reply from Billiton
to Vienna supporter
Thank you for your email. I have received numerous similar emails, setting out the same points you have made.
At this stage, Billiton's offer is not yet concluded. Even if it is successful, as you would no doubt expect, Billiton as a responsible company, will take appropriate time to come to decisions on the various assets obtained with Rio Algom.
In the interim, I have forwarded your email to the appropriate personnel in Billiton who will be responsible for any decisions made in respect of Crandon.
Senior Manager Corporate Affairs
Tel: +44 20 7747-3956, Fax: +44 20 7747-3903
Mobile: +44 7768 264 950
Email: Marc.Gonsalves@bhpbilliton.com, Website: www.billiton.com
Subject: Rio Algom's doomed Wisconsin plans
Aug. 25, 2000
The takeover rumors surrounding Rio Algom have citizens of Wisconsin very surprised. The company's proposed Crandon zinc-copper sulfide mine has run into a firestorm of protest in our environmentally conscious state. The proposed mine is upstream from the pristine Wolf River and the wild rice beds of the Mole Lake Ojibwe. Opposition to the project has united Native American nations with sportfishing groups, environmentalists with unionists, and local rural residents with urban students.
The state has passed moratorium legislation and met company groundwater models with skepticism; a legislative bill is pendng to prohibit cyanide use. The township of Nashville has also rescinded a Local Agreement with the company, and local tribes Mole Lake and Potawatomi have strengthened their reservation environmental regulations using federal laws. Rio Algom's Crandon mine looks increasingly like a very risky investment. Wisconsin scores the lowest of any U.S. state on the Fraser Institute ranking of openness to mining. Noranda and BHP have already dropped mining plans here; Exxon and Phelps- Dodge already pulled out the Crandon project.
We would suggest that any prospective buyer of Rio Algom not buy the firm's assurances that the Crandon project is a done deal, and do its own independent Web research. Company shareholders can likewise visit www.treatyland.com and www.nocrandonmine.com
c/o Midwest Treaty Network
P.O. Box 14382, Madison WI 53714-4382 USA
Hotlaine (800) 445-8615 Tel./Fax (608) 246-2256
RE: Rio Algom's doomed
Thank you for your email message, and the points you have raised.
Clearly, this is very early days in respect of the announcement made this morning. However, I have forwarded your message to the various personnel in Billiton who are best placed to look into the issues you discuss.
Your message has been passed to me by Marc Gonsalves.
I can only re-iterate what has been said at this point -that it is too soon to know what view Billiton will take on the future of the Crandon proposal. I can only give you assurance that any operation we undertake is only after a process involving stakeholder consultation,with relevant views taken into consideration. We have an excellent reputation, and intend to keep it that way. We work to International best practice standards, and are innovators of technological processes aimed at reducing environmental impacts in many stages of production. like yourself I will be following developments very closely,
Thank you for your prompt reply to our query. I want to clarify, however, the essence of our message. We were not expressing our concern that your company operate the Crandon mine in an environmentally friendly way. We were merely issuing a polite advisory that the mine will not be allowed to proceed in our state, and that you should cut your losses now before you follow the path of other companies before you. Simply look up Crandon mine or Rio Algom on the Web, and you will see the widespread extent of the controversy.
We have heard promises from three companies in the past 25 years--Exxon, Phelps-Dodge, and Rio Algom-- that the mine can be operated safely. But the science showed us years ago that a sulfide mine cannot operate safely in such a sensitive area. One Exxon biologist even admitted that "a more difficult place to mine" could not be found. Even the Department of Natural Resources is challenging Rio Algom's failed groundwater flow model.
The Crandon site is at the headwaters of the Wolf River Class I trout stream, which the Federation of Fly Fishermen recently designated the #1 endangered river in the U.S. It is also adjacent to wetlands and Indian wild rice beds. This is all in a pristine area that is dependent on the state's tourism industry (whichgenerates $8 billion annually). The Crandon controversy does not pit environmentalists against mining, but one industry against another industry. We invite you to take the following factors into account:
*Mining companies have spent millions of dollars so far just to get the Crandon mine permitted. Exxon spent $2 million on lobbying and PR in 1997 alone--unsuccessfully. Phelps-Dodge and later Exxon Minerals gave up on the project. Noranda and BHP have given up on other projects in the same area. The word spreading at international industry conferences is that "Wisconsin is Trouble."
*North American Mining (Aug/Sept 1998) stated: "The increasingly sophisticated political maneuvering by environmental special interest groups have made permitting a mine in Wisconsin an impossibility." Other international mining journals express worry about the contagious spread of anti-mining sentiment from Wisconsin "cyberbarbarians" through the Internet, and place Wisconsin together with Canada, Australia, and West Papua (Indonesia) as the main global battlegrounds for the industry's future.
*A new corporate initiative in Wisconsin would have a terrible sense of timing. The recent anti-corporate protests in Seattle, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and elsewhere have shifted U.S. political thinking. In Wisconsin, the ground is already historically fertile for populist rural movements and Progressive third-party politics. We have recently seen a resurgence of farmers' movements directed against mining, a proposed transmission line, and a Perrier springwater pumping plan. The message of Seattle is quickly reaching our Heartland.
*The federal government has recently been bending to public prerssure and buying mines in environemntally or culturally sensitive locations. Noranda backed out of the mine near Yellowstone in 1995, and just this week a pumice mine in an Arizona sacred area was bought out. The state is also buying up natural areas to protect them, and tribes are buying lands to recover lost territory.
*In 1996, an indigenous warrior group blockaded train tracks across the Bad River Reservation to stop acid shipments to the White Pine mine in Michigan. Not only did the nonviolent blockade stop the acid solution project, but Inmet was forced to abandon the mine for good. This was an obscure mine that did not directly affect the reservation or the state, but the Wisconsin movement shut it down anyway. We can only imagine what would happen if the famous Crandon mine is permitted; perhaps Wolf Blitzer of CNN will be paying us a visit......
If you choose to ignore our friendly advisory, well, that's your business! See you on CNN.
WISCONSIN'S STRONG MOVEMENT AGAINST SULFIDE MINING:
Headwaters Group of NORTHERN THUNDER
PO Box 124
Fairchild, WI 54741
September 27, 2000�Appleation� �Name�
To Billiton :
As Director of Noranda Inc, you have a critical responsibility to your shareholders to make the most astute economic decisions regarding the use of their capital. You are now making a most critical investment decision that will shape the future of your company for decades to come: the proposed purchase of Rio Algom.
There are many factors that you must consider in this decision and it is not my intention to dissuade you from the best course for your investors. You should be aware however, that one of Rio Algom�s key "assets" could indeed prove to be a major liability for your investors; namely the Crandon Mining Project.
For most of the people in our state, the general feeling is that we were caught with our hands down on the Flambeau Mining Project but we will not be fooled again.
You may remember that extensive local and state-wide opposition to the original project plan resulted in a greatly scaled back project where no on-site processing was allowed and all ore was shipped off site to processing plants in Ontario. And even though this project proved to be quite lucrative for Rio Tinto, virtually none of the promised "economic miracle" promised to the people of Rusk County materialized and there is a great deal of resentment in that community as a result. The failure of the groundwater flow model to accurately predict the outflow from the reclaimed mine site has also inflamed the ire of many who once felt they could trust predictions of Flambeau�s "science."
Bolstered by their quick profits from the Flambeau mine, Kennecott/Rio Tinto began an intensive lease/purchase drive in West/central Wisconsin where they hoped to make their next big strike. Those of us in that community, having seen what occurred in Rusk County, rose up in a concerted effort and said in no uncertain terms to "Say NO to Sulfide Mining." This region of the state gave strong support to drive to pass the Mining Moratorium Law, instituted numerous local and county-level metallic mining permitting and zoning laws and instituted a comprehensive counter offensive to a blatant public relations campaign forged by both Kennecott and Exxon/Rio Algom.
As part of this campaign we produced the enclosed alert messages (reproduced here at 1/2 scale) which ran on a weekly basis for over a year in several area newspapers and later distributed throughout the state. The message was straightforward: the mining companies and their supporters were making a variety of false claims and promises about the proposed mining projects. It was our attempt to set the record straight. Every one of our messages were shared with government and mining company officials with the request that any misstatements or inaccuracies be corrected.
We took these messages all the way to the top�to our Governor, to our Federal legislators, to the various project heads of the Crandon Project and to Robert Wilson, CEO of Rio Tinto, the other board members and the shareholders themselves at the annual shareholder�s meeting in London in 1998.
Rio Tinto, soon thereafter, cancelled their lease contracts and essentially pulled out of the state except for the on-going liability of their reclamation work at Flambeau (which we are continuing to monitor and assure complete compliance with both the letter and spirit of the law).
The bottom line is that we, the people of Wisconsin, drove out the world�s largest mining company with all their resources. We have not rested on our laurels and we have not given up the fight. We shall continue to challenge the owners of the proposed Crandon mining Project�whoever they may be�to speak the truth about the environmental, economic and social implications of sulfide mining in our state. If you feel you can successfully answer the challenges posted in these alert messages to any proposed mining activity that you might chose to undertake in this state, then we will listen. But we will also respond to both our own constituents and legislators and regulators� and also to your own shareholders. We will not be lied to, and we will continue to challenge anyone who attempts to do so. That is a promise.
The opposition to the Crandon Project is a state-wide and has even gained the full support of numerous national organizations as Trout Unlimited and American Rivers. We cannot be bought and we will use every legal means at our disposal to see that this project will not go forward. I suggest you cut your losses while you can.
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