The head of a major Australian mining company steps down after the company destroyed two indigenous holy sites.
Rio Tinto CEO Jean Sebastian Jacques will leave the Anglo-Australian mining giant by March due to the destruction of the 46,000-year-old caves to reach iron ore.
Last month, Jack apologized to an Australian Senate investigation into the destruction of the caves in May, saying there was no doubt the company could have made better decisions.
The explosions, which enabled Rio to access 75 million pounds (132 million Australian dollars) of high-quality iron ore, drew international condemnation and damaged the miners’ reputation for engaging with indigenous groups in its global operations.
The rock shelters of Juukan Gorge in the west Australia It showed evidence of continuous human habitation dating back 46,000 years.
The site was destroyed against the wishes of the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) people, the traditional owners.
In a statement, Rio Tinto said that stakeholders had expressed their concerns “about the accountability of the executive branch for failures”.
The board said Jack would remain CEO until March or until a successor was appointed, and that the search for a new CEO was already underway.
Iron Ore President Chris Salisbury will also leave, and Simon Niven, head of Corporate Relations, the unit responsible for engaging with Indigenous communities.
in August Internal audit The three were financially punished, but did not demand their expulsion.
Jack lost payments totaling £ 2.7 million, while Salisbury and Niven took £ 600,000 and £ 525,000.
The high-profile departures come amid a growing sensitivity in Australia to the treatment of indigenous people, who have been overrepresented in the nation’s prisons and are in poor health and shorter than average lives.
Brian O’Brien, executive director of the Active Investor at the Australian Center for Corporate Responsibility, said the implementation changes “should act as a wake-up call for the Australian iron ore sector and mining companies around the world.”
Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) personnel said they have no comment on executive changes, but will continue to work with Rio Tinto.
“We cannot and will not allow this kind of destruction to happen again,” the PKK said in a statement.
Australia’s largest pension fund, AustralianSuper, said it is convinced that “appropriate responsibility” has now been taken on by executives in Rio Tinto, although it added that nothing can nullify the destruction of sites of cultural importance.
Western Australian laws that approved the destruction are also being reviewed.
The National Title Deeds Council (NNTC), which represents traditional owners, welcomed the move but called for further legal reform.
“The traditional owners are not against economic development. They just want to be able to protect the most important cultural heritage sites.”