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Rio Tinto CEO resigns after destroying Australian indigenous site

The Rio Tinto building in Brisbane.

The Rio Tinto building in Brisbane.
photo:: William West / AFP (Getty Images)

Three mining company executives who a 46,000-Year-old Inative Australian heritage to expand an iron ore mine – and later insisted on it didn’t do anything wrong– leave the company.

Rio Tinto destroyed the Juukan 1 and Juukan 2 rock shelters in the Pilbara region of Western Australia in May 2020A place of great cultural importance for the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP). Technically, the company did so in complete compliance with the law, having obtained ministerial approval years earlier under Section 18 of Australian law Aboriginal Heritage Act. In 2014, Rio Tinto funded one final archaeological expedition to extract vital items from the rock shelters Sydney Morning Herald reported “Meaning exceeded expectations” such as grinding and stamping stones, a 28,000Year-old bone tool and parts of a 4,000Year-old belt made of human hair.

The expedition’s archaeologists recommended exploring the Juukan 1 and Juukan 2 sites further. Instead, Rio Tinto started the detonation, claiming at the last minute that the charges could not be safely removed. The company then made a statement Claiming that it “worked constructively with PKKP people on a range of heritage issues” and “protected places of cultural importance to the group”. It appeared to apologize in June, but iron ore manager Chris Salisbury clarified later that the company has not regretted blowing up the website, just “the hardship the event caused”.

Now out in Rio Tinto according to CNNare CEO Jean-Sébastien Jacques, Salisbury, and Simone Nivens, Managing Director of the Corporate Relations Group. Jacques stays until the election of his successor or the end of March. Salisbury is stepping down immediately and both he and Nivens will be leaving the company entirely by the end of the year. Although executives are penalized with around $ 5 million in total bonuses, they still receive an exit payment including long-term bonuses.

Simon Thompson, chairman of Rio Tinto, told CNN in a statement: “W.What happened in Juukan was wrong. We are determined to ensure that the destruction of a cultural heritage of such exceptional archaeological and cultural importance does not happen again to an operation in Rio Tinto. “

Jamie Lowe, CEO of the National Native Title Council, who represents meIndigenous groups in Australia tweeted that while the NTTC “welcomes” the toppling of its leaders, “it is not the end.”

“We cannot and will not allow this type of devastation to occur again,” the said PKKP Aboriginal Corporation said the New York Times in a statement.

Hesta, a pension fund that has a stake in Rio Tinto, previously called for a public inquiry and said the removal of the executives was insufficientquate.

“Mining companies that do not negotiate fairly and in good faith with traditional owners expose the company to reputational and legal risk,” the fund said. according to the guard. “These risks increase the longer these agreements exist. Without an independent review, we cannot adequately assess these risks and understand how they could affect value. We have lost confidence that the company can do this on its own. “

Allan Fels, an economist and lawyer consulted by Hesta, told the Guardian: “T.There are potentially unsatisfactory behavior problems here, both on a legal and ethical level. They need to be examined independently. “

Mining companies have received ministerial permission to destroy more than 100 ancient indigenous sites in Western Australia alone, according to a review conducted by the newspaper. This is a far cry from Rio Tinto’s first ever rodeo in violation of human rights. T.The company was also accused of “grossly unethical behavior” by the company Norwegian Pension Fund. Indigenous Australian lawyer and land rights activist Noel Pearson told the Times the resignations were an important step forward. “IIn the past, with such vandalism, indigenous people would have no one to rely on. “But the University of Queensland sociologist Kristen Lyons told the paper that the structural laws that companies benefit from me have not changedIndigenous peoples and the departures of executives have also failed to address the “deep inequality of who has decision-making rights”.

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