Most controversial miners of 2011

A new report has labeled BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Anglo American, and Barrick Gold as some of the most controversial mining companies of 2011.

The new report by market researcher RepRisk said the global miners had primarily come under fire for their impact on the environment, but most of the controversial projects weren't located on Australian soil.

In order of ranking, the top ten most controversial companies according to RepRisk were:

1) Alpha Natural Resources
2) Newmont Mining
3) Glencore International
4) BHP Billiton
5) Freeport-McMorRan Copper & Gold
6) Rio Tinto
7) Compania de Minas Buenaventura
8) Barrick Gold (equal ranking)
9) Anglo American
10) Veanta Resources (equal ranking)

United States-focused Alpha Natural Resources topped the list after being targeted for the practice of mountaintop removal mining, a hot issue in the US.

It also drew controversy for safety and pollution problems and allegations of fraud.

Closer to home RepRisk said Rio Tinto came under fire for health and safety conditions at its Mount Thorley, Hunter Valley, and Bengalla coal mines in Australia.

In 2011 the company was also targeted for the risk of radioactive water spilling from the Ranger uranium mine, and for spilling 62,000 litres of petrol in the Northern Territory.

Still in Australia, Rio attracted the ire of environmentalists in 2011 for its uranium mining plans in Western Australia.

BHP drew Australian criticism after workers were reported to have been exposed to asbestos on a BHP Teekay shipping vessel.

The long running industrial relations dispute on BMA's coal mines was also a source of controversy for the company's Australian operations.

You can read the full RepRisk report here.

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