Corporate Cane Toad Award 2021: Rio Tinto and Mayur Resources receive Australia’s most toxic award

Melbourne, July 9th 2021 –   Rio Tinto and Mayur Resources were awarded the Corporate Cane Toad Award for their roles in contributing to environmental destruction and/or human rights violations worldwide. [1]. The winners were announced at a ceremony in Melbourne after a month of public voting in which over 1,000 people voted for the six companies nominated.

As people worldwide are fighting for climate justice, the Australian company Mayur Resources is pushing to open Papua New Guinea (PNG) to coal – the world’s dirtiest industry. Among the company’s many plans is to build a coal-fired power station in Lae, PNG’s second-biggest city. It is unclear whether the company has done sufficient outreach to the people living there, who could suffer substantial health impacts due to the coal plant. Recent research also suggests that the company has not adequately consulted with impacted communities about the plant that is to be built 500 meters from their village. In the words of one of the community representatives themselves: “The community needs to be involved in all processes of communication, in consultation and with any other activity that’s associated with the company. They don’t have our consent”.

If Mayur Resources succeeds with its dirty coal agenda, PNG would be the first Pacific Island Country to develop a coal industry. Beyond wreaking havoc on local communities and causing irreversible environmental damage, this would also seriously harm the efforts of the communities across the Pacific that are leading the fight to save their homes and end climate injustice. Mayur is hoping to start the construction of the plant in 2021.

After the computation of votes, Rio Tinto was voted the most toxic company for its decade long failure to clean up mines in Bougainville and recent destruction of Indigenous cultural sites in Australia.  Mayur Resources received the second most votes from the public and the Cane Toad Award for pushing to open up a new polluting coal mine in the Pacific. Both are Australian mining resource companies.

“The Corporate Cane Toad Award names and shames Australian corporations implicated in Human rights violations and environmental destruction worldwide. People voted to crown Rio Tinto and Mayur Resources the country’s most disgusting award and are demanding change”  said Sam Cossar, Friends of the Earth’s Economic Justice campaigner.

 “These inaugural Cane Toad Awards help draw attention to the ongoing problems of unethical and unacceptable corporate behaviour, and remind us of how much stronger our laws need to be in protecting human rights, including the rights of First Nations peoples, and the environment”  said  Luke Fletcher, from Jubilee Australia.

Some of the largest and most influential Australian companies in the world were nominated for the awards by impacted communities and civil society organisations. These included ANZ – for financing climate-wrecking fossil fuels, BHP – for its involvement in Brazil’s worst environmental disaster, The Just Group – for the lack of public support to garment workers through the COVID-19 crisis,  and Resgen – for its attempt to build a coal mine in South Africa.

“Women are disproportionally impacted by poverty, and the Corporate Cane Toad Award shows that Australian companies, whether through their action or lack of action, are driving deeper poverty, injustice, and gender inequality around the world” said Katherine Tu from ActionAid Australia.

The award comes at a time when Australian companies are facing increased scrutiny over climate change commitments and riding roughshod on communities’ right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent both in Australia and overseas. 

Friends of the Earth, Jubilee and ActionAid Australia, the organizers of the Corporate Cane Toad, demand new binding rules from the government to ensure companies respect Human Rights, women’s rights and the environment.



In 1935, the toxic cane toad was artificially introduced into Australia. Backed by government and powerful companies, this damaging species was introduced to protect lucrative sugar crops from a beetle. This resulted in one of Australia’s worst environmental disasters, with cane toads destroying ecosystems and killing countless other species.

Now, many Australian corporations are implicated in violations of human rights and environmental destruction worldwide. Rainforest clearing, land grabbing, union-busting, water contamination, climate wrecking and the list goes on. Despite numerous reports and lawsuits, these corporations get away with it time and time again. They are becoming Corporate Cane Toads and should not be allowed to take over.

That’s why we’ve created the CANE TOAD AWARDS. Australian corporations will be nominated for their wrongdoings, and the public will vote for the biggest toad! With your help, we will expose the worst behavior by Australian companies and hold them accountable. We demand the Australian government introduce new binding laws to ensure companies respect human rights and the environment wherever they operate, like are being introduced in many other countries.

Vote, share, and shame these companies that are causing so much damage. The company with the most votes will be named the 2021 Corporate Cane Toad and referred to an international human rights complaint  mechanism under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development rules on multinational enterprises.

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