The best athletes in the world continue to prepare for the 2012 Olympic Games where the best of the best will be rewarded with coveted Olympic medals. Rio Tinto will be the exclusive provider of the metal to produce the 4,700 gold, silver and bronze medals that will be awarded at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, July 27-Aug. 12.
As the official provider the company laid out its ethical track record for review.
“Being ethically responsible is a thread that runs through everything we do,” said Rio Tinto chief executive Tom Albanese. “We aim to bring long-lasting positive change to the communities where we work, respecting human rights, bringing economic benefits and looking after the environment.
“The metals and minerals we produce go to make things we use every day, and that help contribute to higher living standards, from medicine and soap to housing and mobile phones.
“We have rigorous standards for air quality, ecosystems, biodiversity, climate change, the use of energy, land and water and waste disposal. Before we even open a mine we plan for its closure and how to restore the land.
“We support London 2012's commitment to delivering the most sustainable games ever. It aligns with Rio Tinto’s commitment to sustainable development wherever we operate.”
The metal is being sourced from Rio Tinto's Kennecott Utah Copper mine in Salt Lake City, UT, USA and its Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia, which goes into commercial production in 2013.
In Salt Lake City, Rio Tinto operates strictly within the parameters of its air permits and complies with federal and state air quality regulations, which are based on rigorous standards for protecting human health.
In Oyu Tolgoi, Rio Tinto has committed to zero impact on community water sources.
The primary water source for Oyu Tolgoi is the Gunii Hooloi aquifer - a deep, non-drinkable water source that is separate from the shallow water sources used by households and animals. Oyu Tolgoi is only allowed to use approximately 20 percent of the water from Gunii Hooloi, so the aquifer can never be exhausted.
This year's Olympic medals are among the heaviest ever to be created, each one measuring 9.5 cm (3.75 in.) in diameter and weighing more than 400 g (14 oz).
Rather than being pure gold, the gold medal is predominantly silver that has been plated with at least a fifth of an ounce of gold, while the silver medal is mainly silver with a small amount of copper. The bronze metal is made from copper, tin and zinc.
In total more than £1.2 million of gold and £3.4 million of silver was used to create the Olympic and Paralympic medals.
Squeezing the metal discs with forces of up to 850 t (936 st), the Royal Mint pressed the final design on to them – the Greek goddess of victory, Nike, on one side and the London 2012 logo with the River Thames in the background on the other.
Fergus Feeley, the director of programmes at the Royal Mint, said: “There are more than 22 stages a victory medal goes through after we receive the blank discs. It takes over 10 hours of work for each medal.”
The London Organizing Committee chose Rio Tinto to supply the metal for the medals as part of its commitment to make London 2012 the “greenest” Games ever.