Protestors thrown out as mining group's AGM turns disorderly

Three protestors were forcibly ejected from the annual general meeting of RTZ yesterday amid rowdy scenes during which the giant mining group was accused of abuses ranging from environmental damage to murder.

The meeting threatened to get out of control at one stage as the chairman, Sir Derek Birkin, struggled to be heard above the shouts of protestors complaining about RTZ's mining activities in West Papua New Guinea and Madagascar.

Robert Wilson, the chief executive, vigorously rebutted claims that its Freeport-McMoRan associate had been involved in the murder of people near its mine at Grasberg in Indonesia or that it would be involved in the forced resettlement of any indigenous people living near the project.

But Mr Wilson said he would welcome the input of Friends of the Earth, who orchestrated much of yesterday's demonstration, into the company's discussions with the government of the Malagasy Republic over a mineral sands project. He told shareholders the mine, if it went ahead, could bring 750 jobs to the area and provide $250m in export revenues.

Sir Derek said demand for the group's minerals and metals continued to grow, with prices up 28 per cent up in the first quarter against the average for last year.

Negotiated prices with Japanese buyers for iron ore and coal have risen between 7 and 17 per cent so far in 1995.

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