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

According to the company, he will leave Jack as soon as he chooses his successor or at the end of next March, whichever comes first.

Two more executives will leave: Chris Salisbury, president of the iron ore business, and Simon Niven, CEO of the Corporate Relationship Group. Salisbury immediately steps down and will leave the company at the end of the year. Niven will also come out at the end of December.

Rio Tinto stock fell nearly 1% in Sydney on Friday.

“What happened in Gookan was a mistake,” Rio Tinto Chairman Simon Thompson said in a statement, referring to the destruction of two rock shelters in Western Australia that contained artifacts indicating tens of thousands of years of continuous human occupation.

“We are determined to ensure that the destruction of a heritage site of this exceptional archaeological and cultural significance does not happen again in Operation Rio Tinto,” added Thompson.

The three executives will still receive some remuneration as part of the terms of their contracts, including long-term incentive bonuses. They have already been punished with a total of £ 3.8 million (roughly $ 5 million) in cut-off bonuses.

The destruction of the Juukan Gorge continued on May 24 despite a seven-year battle by the local guardians of the land, the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people, to protect the site. Rio Tinto apologized in June.

In a report published last month, the company said it had failed to meet some of its own criteria “in relation to responsible management and protection of cultural heritage.” But it did not fire any of the executives – a decision that sparked criticism from investor groups who accused the company of failing to take full responsibility for the cave demolitions. The caves had great archaeological value and a deep cultural meaning for the indigenous people.

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In a statement on Friday, Rio Tinto acknowledged that “important stakeholders have voiced concerns about operational accountability for identified failures.

Some advocacy groups in Australia welcomed the Rio Tinto decision.

“This is just a first step on the long road towards restoring Rio Tinto’s good practices and reputation in its relationships with indigenous peoples,” James Fitzgerald, head of legal and strategy counsel at the Australian Center for Corporate Responsibility, said in a statement.

“The damage cannot be repaired,” he added. “We’ll need to hear who [Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura] People as to whether they are satisfied with any compensation offered by Rio Tinto. “

The National Council of Indigenous Ownership, an organization that represents the rights and interests of indigenous guard groups, also welcomed the departure.

“But this is not the end,” said CEO Jimmy Lowe chirp. “Rio must now conduct a review led by indigenous people and widespread cultural change.”

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