Rio Tinto CEO and senior executives resign from firm after Juukan Gorge debacle | Rio Tinto


The Rio Tinto chief government, Jean-Sébastien Jacques, and two different senior executives are leaving the worldwide miner after its board bowed to intense investor strain for robust motion over its resolution to explode 46,000-year-old rock shelters at Juukan Gorge in Western Australia’s Pilbara area.

Rio Tinto mentioned Jacques was leaving “by mutual settlement” with the board.

The iron ore head, Chris Salisbury, and the company affairs boss, Simone Niven, may also depart, the corporate mentioned on Friday morning.

The transfer got here after per week wherein buyers queued as much as denounce as inadequate the board’s earlier resolution to chop the executives’ short-term bonuses in response to the scandal and the pinnacle of an Australian parliamentary committee trying into the affair raised concerns that the corporate had given the inquiry deceptive proof.

Regardless of leaving the corporate all three would proceed to be entitled to long-term bonuses, Rio Tinto mentioned.

The corporate blew up the rock shelters, which had been extremely important to the realm’s Aboriginal conventional house owners, the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura folks, in Might, in order that it might mine higher high quality iron ore, regardless of figuring out for years of their significance.

In response to an outcry from Indigenous teams and buyers, Rio Tinto’s board carried out a overview of the choice, which led to the discount in bonuses.

“Whereas there’s normal recognition of the transparency of the board overview and help for the modifications really helpful, important stakeholders have expressed issues about government accountability for the failings recognized,” the corporate mentioned.

The Australasian Centre for Company Accountability welcomed an finish to the “dishonest malaise of Rio Tinto’s board and senior administration”, James Fitzgerald mentioned.

“Shareholder democracy and investor motion is alive and effectively in Australia. Company captains might imagine twice earlier than trying to mislead buyers, to not point out a parliamentary inquiry, in future.”

The Nationwide Native Title Council welcomed Rio’s actions however mentioned the corporate should make “structural change” to verify a catastrophe like Juukan didn’t occur once more.

“There may be extra work to be executed,” mentioned the NNTC’s chief government, Jamie Lowe. “The legislation must be strengthened. We will’t depend on the goodwill of mining firms, we want the legislation strengthened. We will’t depend on their phrase that issues will get higher.”

The Australian Council of Superannuation Buyers, which advises 38 massive tremendous funds on governance points, welcomed the departures however mentioned the method had been “drawn out”.

“Rio Tinto now has the chance to deal with the required remediation, cultural heritage and threat processes with recent eyes,” mentioned ACSI’s chief government, Louise Davidson.

“Rio Tinto should prioritise working with conventional house owners the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura folks to rebuild their relationship. It’s essential that this isn’t delayed.”

In a transfer that recognised that the board has lacked engagement with Australian points, the corporate may also promote from non-executive director to senior unbiased director the manager accountable for oversight of its Australian-listed arm, Rio Tinto Restricted.

Sam Laidlaw will proceed as senior unbiased director accountable for the British half of the group, Rio Tinto plc.

Davidson mentioned ACSI was happy to see Rio Tinto’s board recognise it wanted to be extra linked to Australia. “This work shall be ongoing and have to be a function of future appointments to the board.

“We may also be trying carefully on the separation preparations, with the expectation that any exit received’t present a windfall for executives on their departure.”

Rio Tinto’s chairman, Simon Thompson, mentioned: “What occurred at Juukan was improper and we’re decided to make sure that the destruction of a heritage web site of such distinctive archaeological and cultural significance by no means happens once more at a Rio Tinto operation.

“We’re additionally decided to regain the belief of the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura folks and different conventional house owners.

“We now have listened to our stakeholders’ issues lack of particular person accountability undermines the group’s potential to rebuild that belief and to maneuver ahead to implement the modifications recognized within the board overview.”