We were proud to be the first mining company in Australia to understand local land title and enter into agreements with traditional owners. Today, agreements with indigenous groups, on which our operations are often located, and others are essential to the way we work and an important way in which communities advance their own development. The agreements contain provisions defining who members of the community should be involved in the agreement process and consulted on opportunities and opportunities. We know that mining can be complex and that is why we want to explain our business and processes in a way that is accessible to a wide range of stakeholders. We make sure to engage culturally and communicate clearly and openly. Our agreements also provide payments to beneficiaries, deliver social and economic results, and engage with indigenous groups in the areas of cultural heritage, employment, business development and education and training. In Australia, for example, our access to land agreements allow us, through trust funds and other mechanisms, to compensate traditional landowners for the operations and presence we have on their land. Ultimately, agreements are a mechanism of accountability and provide businesses and communities with reciprocal performance indicators covering all stages; exploration to project planning and operations, even after closure. In addition to monitoring and evaluating the results in progress, we also conduct in-depth independent audits of the agreement itself. Because agreements can extend over the life of a mine, these audits are conducted at specific intervals and provide a point-to-day assessment of the adequacy and effectiveness of the objectives, governance structures and policies associated with the agreement. One of the most important principles of the Rio Tinto agreements is the ability to raise objections under a Commonwealth state or law. This means that traditional owners, as citizens of Australia, are prevented from exercising fundamental rights under Section 18 of the Aboriginal Heritage Applications Act 1972 (AV).
Community investments are voluntary financial commitments, including in-kind donations of assets and personnel, that Rio Tinto provides to third parties to address identified community needs or social risks. Development contributions are defined as non-discretionary financial obligations, including in-kind asset donations and working time, that Rio Tinto makes to a third party in order to obtain social, economic and/or environmental benefits for a community that Rio Tinto is required to comply with by law under a legally binding agreement, by a regulatory authority or by other means. Payment to landowners is non-discretionary compensation paid by Rio Tinto to third parties in connection with access to land, mine development, right of origin, impact and other legally binding compensation agreements. We set up monitoring committees bringing together not only our staff, but also representatives of the Community and independent bodies such as NGOs and experts specialising in the environment and social affairs. This brings transparency, impartiality and credibility to our follow-up reports. We use a wide range of instruments, such as social risk assessment, community review and redress procedures, and independent verification mechanisms, to agree and implement improvements to existing agreements and their results. The Minister`s proposal that the government avoid and operate these agreements in a private capacity has not had any consequences for traditional owners if the level of fairness and balance does not exist in the current legal system.