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10 Jul 2020

Brad Thompson, Financial Review

Global human rights body tears strips off Rio over cave blasts

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10 July 2020


A day after a coalition of 35 Indigenous groups called for Rio to be stripped of its prestigious human rights ranking, the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) and World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) have savaged the resources giant.

Netherlands-based CHRB said it couldn't continue to rank Rio as a global human rights leader and as the top mining company without adding a damning statement about what happened at Juukan Gorge to its current assessment.


CHRB indicated Rio's board-led inquiry into what occurred would fall short of the required response unless it was independent.


The human rights benchmark was first published in 2017 and Rio has consistently ranked among the top-scoring companies. It had an initial score of 63 per cent, rising to 76 per cent for 2018 and 2019.

CHRB said the high scores were in stark contrast to the destruction of the two Aboriginal heritage sites and an "extremely concerning" departure from the company's public commitment to respect human rights.

[...] [T]he coalition of Indigenous groups urged CHRB to strip Rio of its ranking after a global and investor backlash.

Rio has apologised to the PKKP and stopped all work at Juukan Gorge.

The company said it was committed to engaging with CHRB and other stakeholders on its actions at Juukan Gorge and its human rights performance.

"Our decision to conduct a board-led review of events at Juukan Gorge reflects our determination to learn lessons from what happened and to make any necessary improvements to our heritage processes and governance," a Rio spokesman said.

"Our ongoing conversations with the PKKP people will play an important role in this process and provide an avenue to address their grievances."