Rio Tinto chief Jean-Sebastien Jacques to stop over Aboriginal cave destruction

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picture captionJean-Sebastien Jacques has been Rio Tinto’s chief govt since 2016
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The boss of Rio Tinto, Jean-Sebastien Jacques, will step down following criticism of the mining large’s destruction of sacred Aboriginal websites.

In May, the world’s greatest iron ore miner destroyed two historical caves in Pilbara, Western Australia.

The firm went forward with blowing up the Juukan Gorge rock shelters regardless of the opposition of Aboriginal conventional homeowners.

It has sparked widespread condemnation from shareholders and the general public.

On Friday, the corporate mentioned in an announcement that “important stakeholders have expressed considerations about govt accountability for the failings recognized”.

The board mentioned Mr Jacques would stay because the chief govt till March, or till a successor was appointed.

Other senior executives, together with the heads of the miner’s iron ore and company relations divisions, may also go away the corporate on the finish of the 12 months.

The caves – seen as one among Australia’s most important archaeological analysis websites – had proven proof of steady human habitation relationship again 46,000 years.

They sat above about eight million tonnes of high-grade iron ore, with an estimated worth of £75m (A$132m; $96m).

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picture captionJuukan Gorge cave websites, seen earlier than and after the destruction

Australia’s parliament is at present holding an inquiry into the miner’s actions.

Rio Tinto additionally held its personal inquiry earlier this 12 months, after which the corporate lower bonuses for administrators and started makes an attempt at repairing relations with Aboriginal communities.

“What occurred at Juukan was mistaken 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,” mentioned chairman Simon Thompson.

Artefacts discovered on the caves embrace a 28,000-year-old animal bone device and a 4,000-year-old belt fabricated from plaited human hair. DNA testing had instantly linked it to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) individuals – the normal homeowners of the land.

After the caves have been destroyed, a PKKP consultant, John Ashburton, mentioned dropping the location was a “devastating blow”.

“There are lower than a handful of identified Aboriginal websites in Australia which can be as outdated as this one… its significance can’t be underestimated,” he mentioned.

Last week it was revealed that within the days operating as much as the caves’ destruction in May, Rio Tinto employed attorneys in case opponents tried to hunt injunctions to cease them.

Although the corporate mentioned it had permission for the work beneath Aboriginal heritage legal guidelines, critics mentioned it steered the miner was conscious of the location’s cultural significance.

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