Rio Tinto CEO says about the destruction of the tribal site

Rio Tinto chief executive Jean-Sebastian Jacques will step down by the end of March after failing to prevent the fallout from the destruction of an ancient tribal site in Western Australia.

The company said two other senior executives – Chris Salisbury, iron ore chief, and corporate affairs leader Simon Niven, who had responsibility for indigenous affairs – would also leave Rio, as Minor opposed to its decision to destroy 46,000 Fights an investor fight. – Old site.

Simon Thompson, president of Rio Tinto, said Mr Jacques had agreed to stand as chief executive and the process of identifying a successor was underway. He said that Mr. Jacques would remain in his role until March 31, appointing a successor or leaving.

Rio is damaging its reputation after destroying two sacred tribal shelters in May for the expansion of an iron ore mine in the Juken Gorge in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Its major iron ore operations, which generate more than 90 percent of the company’s earnings, are based in the region.

“What happened in Jucan was wrong and we are determined to ensure that the destruction of a heritage site of such extraordinary archaeological and cultural significance will never occur again in the Rio Tinto operation. We are also determined to gain the trust of the people and other traditional owners of Putu Kunti Kurama and Pinikura.

Rio surrounds the Juken Gorge site to expand an iron ore mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia © HANDOUT / PKKP Aboriginal Corporation / AFP via Getand Images

“We have heard the concerns of our stakeholders that the lack of personal accountability undermines the group’s ability to re-build that trust and move forward to implement the changes identified in the board’s review,” he said.

Rio-Tinto’s Sydney-traded shares fell 1.5 percent following the announcement, but some ground was down 0.6 percent. The broader S&P / ASX 200 dropped 0.8 percent.

Mr. Salisbury will step down as iron ore chief with immediate effect and leave Rio by 31 December. Ivan Vella, managing director of rail, port and core services, will take over on an interim basis.

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Ms. Niven will leave the group by the end of the year and a new social performance ceremony will be chaired by Mark Davis, another Rio executive, overseeing communities and heritage.

Rio received legal permission to demolish the site in 2013 but it was severely criticized for not changing its plan more quickly once the rock shelter’s archaeological significance became clear.

Some experts have compared the destruction of the site to the type of cultural vandalism practiced by the Taliban.

Rio initially claimed that the incident was a “misunderstanding”, suggesting that the site was not made aware of the cultural significance of the site by traditional landlords to prevent the blasts.

Mr. Jacques made his first public comment on the demolition two weeks after it happened. In front of a parliamentary inquiry last month, Mr Jacques said he did not know the importance of the caves to be blown up.

The board’s initial response to the crisis was slammed by large Australian pension funds and some smaller UK investors.

After reviewing the events leading up to the blasts, the board deducted a total of £ 4m from Mr Jacques, Mr Salisbury and Ms Niven’s bonuses, but said they were the right people to lead the company’s response to the incident. Were.

Accr, an investor advocacy group, said there were significant moments for shareholder activism in Rio.

“Shareholder democracy and investor action is alive and well in Australia. Corporate captains may think twice before trying to mislead investors, not to mention a future parliamentary inquiry.

However, some investors were not satisfied.

Hosta, a pension fund that manages $ 52bn ($ 38bn), said the board had not adequately demonstrated that it had appropriate governance measures in relation to its agreements with tribal communities.

“We welcome the steps taken by Rio today, a change in senior leadership should not distract from the need for an independent and transparent review of all existing agreements between the company and traditional owners,” said Debbie Blakey, chief executive officer of Haby.

With no clear internal successor, Rio will likely exit the company for its next chief executive, who will have to change his relationship with Indigenous Australia as well as address larger strategic issues such as dependence on iron ore.

Under Mr Jacques, Rio sold the property, returned huge amounts of cash to shareholders and became the first major mining company to run out of thermal coal, a polluting fossil fuel.

However, analysts have stated that their biggest achievement was the avoidance of big, transformational deals that have given Rio a hobby in the past.