Home / Business / Rio Tinto CEO steps down after the destruction of a 46,000-year-old indigenous sacred site

Rio Tinto CEO steps down after the destruction of a 46,000-year-old indigenous sacred site

Jacques will leave once he has chosen his successor or at the end of next March, whichever comes first, according to the company.

Two other executives are also leaving: Chris Salisbury, head of the iron ore business, and Simone Niven, executive of the corporate relations group. Salisbury will leave his position immediately and will leave the company at the end of the year. Niven will also be released at the end of December.

“What happened to Juukan was wrong”, Rio Tinto President 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 continued human occupation.

“We are determined to ensure that the destruction of a heritage site of such outstanding archaeological and cultural significance will never occur again during a Rio Tinto operation,”

; added Thompson.

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

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

In a report released last month, the company said it failed to meet some of its standards “in relation to responsible management and protection of cultural heritage.” But it hasn’t fired any executives – a decision that drew criticism from investor groups who accused the company of not taking full responsibility for the cave demolition. The caves had significant archaeological value and profound cultural significance for the Aborigines.

In Friday’s statement, Rio Tinto acknowledged that “significant stakeholders have expressed concern about executive accountability for identified shortcomings.”

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