Two other executives are also departing: Chris Salisbury, head of the iron ore business, and Simone Niven, group executive for corporate relations. Salisbury is immediately stepping down and will leave the company at the end of the year. Niven will also exit at the end of December.
“What happened on Juan was wrong” Rio Tinto chairman Simon Thompson said in a statement, referring to the destruction of two rock shelters in Western Australia that contained artifacts indicating thousands of years of human occupation.
“We are determined to ensure that the destruction of a heritage site of such exceptional archaeological and cultural significance never occurs again in the Rio Tinto operation,” Thompson said.
All three executives will still receive some salaries as part of the terms of their contract, including long-term incentive awards. He has already been fined 3.8 million pounds (about $ 5 million) in severed bonuses.
In a report published last month, the company said it failed to meet its own standards “regarding responsible management and preservation of cultural heritage.” But it did not fire any officials – a decision that attracted criticism from investor groups that accused the company of failing to take full responsibility for the demolition of the caves. The caves had significant archeological values and deep cultural meanings for tribal people.
In Friday’s statement, Rio Tinto acknowledged that “key stakeholders have expressed concern about executive accountability for the identified failures.”