Rio Tinto tangles with tribal queen in Mozambique over resettlement plan

Mining major Rio Tinto has been accused of failing to make resettlement payments for land used by its Mozambican coking coal business by tribal queen Zoria Macajo.

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Macajo has reportedly said she will not leave her village until her people are paid for their land.

Rio Tinto has resettled 88 households as it grows its Mozambique coal mining business in the province of Tete. Another 380 households are scheduled to be resettled this year to make room for associated infrastructure, including roads.

A spokesman for the company said the queen has agreed to the settlement and had received compensation “due to date”.

Rio Tinto offered villagers a like-for-like settlement, including the construction of community buildings on newly allocated land. The resettlement process, which fellow mining major Vale has come under fire for, has provoked violent protests in the region.

Rio Tinto’s ill-fated $4.2 billion entry into the Mozambican coal arena with the 2010 purchase of coal miner Riversdale has already caused the miner big headaches this year.

The business posted a $3 billion write-down in January over lower-than-expected coal quality and infrastructure woes in Mozambique, prompting the exit of ceo Tom Albanese and energy chief Doug Ritchie.