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Australia: Rio Tinto CEO faces calls to resign as he admits ignorance of cultural significance of 46,000 year old Aboriginal heritage site destroyed by company’s mining operation

“Rio Tinto chief faces call to resign after Aboriginal site demolition”, 07 August 2020

Rio Tinto’s chief executive is facing calls to resign after admitting he did not know the cultural significance of a 46,000-year-old Aboriginal site before the mining group blew it up.

Australian MPs … criticised their failure to recognise the cultural significance of the Juukan Gorge site and its inability to immediately answer multiple questions at the inquiry.

The Anglo-Australian miner told the parliamentary committee its senior executives, including Mr Jacques, had not read a 2018 archaeological report the company had commissioned. The study found the site was of the “highest archaeological significance in Australia”.

The controversy has put Rio under mounting pressure from investors, with the Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, a shareholder advocacy group, becoming the latest to call on Mr Jacques to resign.

AustralianSuper, the country’s biggest pension fund with A$130bn (US$94bn) in assets, described the company’s actions as “totally unacceptable” …

Hesta, a A$52bn pension fund that invests in Rio, said … “appropriate improvements” did not occur, it … would consider measures to push for greater accountability at Rio’s next annual meeting.

… Rio had not informed the site’s Aboriginal owners that there were three other potential mining options that would have preserved the caves.

Mr Jacques said he took responsibility for the site’s destruction...