Rio Tinto CEO resigns after destroying 46,000-year-old sacred Aboriginal site

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Jacques is due to leave when a successor is chosen or by the end of March next year, the company said.

Chris Salisbury, head of the iron ore business, and two other executives from Simone Niven, corporate relations group executive, are also leaving. Salisbury is immediately retiring from his post and will leave the company at the end of the year. Niven also ends at the end of December.

Rio Tinto’s share price fell almost 1% in Sydney on Friday.

In a statement, Rio Tinto president Simon Thompson said in a statement that “what happened in Zhucan was wrong.” He referred to the destruction of two rock shelters in Western Australia containing artifacts indicating that humans had occupied them for tens of thousands of years.

“We are determined to ensure that the destruction of the site of such outstanding archaeological and cultural significance will never happen again in Operation Rio Tinto,” Thompson added.

The three executives will still receive some salary as part of the terms of the contract, including long-term incentive compensation. They have already been fined a cut bonus of £3.8 million (about $5 million).

The destruction of the Juukan Gorge cave took place on May 24, despite a seven-year battle between the local officials Puutu Kunti Kurrama and the Pinikura people to protect the site. Rio Tinto Apologized June.

In a report published last month, the company stated that it failed to meet some of its own criteria “with respect to responsible management and protection of cultural heritage”. But the management wasn’t fired, the decision sparked criticism from a group of investors who accused the company of not taking full responsibility for the demolition of the cave. The caves had important archaeological values ​​and deep cultural significance to the natives.

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In a statement Friday, Rio Tinto admitted that “critical stakeholders have expressed concern about management’s responsibility for the identified failures.”

Some Australian advocacy groups have welcomed Rio Tinto’s decision.

James Fitzgerald, Head of Legal Counsel and Strategy at the Center for Corporate Responsibility in Australasia, said in a statement: “This is just the first step on a long journey to restore Rio Tinto’s good practices and reputation in relations with Native Americans.”

“The damage is irreversible,” he added. “We are [Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura] People check whether they are happy with the reparations provided by Rio Tinto. “

The National Native Title Council, an organization representing the rights and interests of Aboriginal protection groups, also welcomed the departure.

“But this is not the end.” CEO Jamie Lowe Tweet. “Rio now needs to undertake Aboriginal-led reviews and large-scale cultural change.”

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