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Rio Tinto CEO sees Canada as less business-friendly than in past

MONTREAL, June 13 (Reuters) - The chief executive of Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto , which owns iron ore, diamond and aluminum mines and processing facilities in Canada, said on Tuesday that it was becoming tougher to do business in the resource-rich country.

"You know mining well and you understand its value, but to be very frank it has been getting harder to do business here over the years - from employee relations to tax to managing land access," Rio Tinto CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques said in prepared remarks to be delivered at the International Economic Forum of the Americas in Montreal. Jacques did not elaborate on his comments.

Calling it the "biggest mining and metals company in Canada," Jacques said Rio Tinto had paid C$3.9 billion ($2.93 billion) in Canadian taxes since 2011 while investing more than C$8 billion.

Rio Tinto employs around 15,000 people in Canada at more than 35 sites, including the Iron Ore Company of Canada in Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador, the Diavik diamond mine in the Northwest Territories and an aluminum smelter in British Columbia.

A Quebec court ruled in 2014 that a C$900 million lawsuit by two Canadian aboriginal communities against a subsidiary of Rio Tinto can proceed. The communities in eastern Canada have said that more than 50 years of iron ore mining in the region has disrupted their traditional way of life.

Jacques said that investment and growth drove wealth generation, which in turn created higher living standards. Fair trade was also key, he said.

"The danger in the current climate is that we focus on wealth distribution and not wealth creation. Both are absolutely critical, but without growth we will have no wealth created to fairly distribute," he said. ($1 = 1.3317 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal, writing by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver, editing by G Crosse)