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Article

7 Mar 2021

Author:
Sue Lannin, ABC News

Rio Tinto chairman Simon Thompson to resign over Juukan Gorge destruction but First Nations leaders and investors say more heads should roll

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4 March 2021

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Rio Tinto announced on Wednesday that chairman Simon Thompson and non-executive director Michael L'Estrange, a former top public servant, would leave the company.

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Investors had been calling for both Mr Thompson and Mr L'Estrange, a former Australian high commissioner to the United Kingdom, to step down ahead of this year's annual general meetings in April and May.

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Mr Thompson said that as chairman he was ultimately accountable for the destruction of the sacred Aboriginal site.

"I am proud of Rio Tinto's achievements in 2020, including our outstanding response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a second successive fatality-free year, significant progress with our climate change strategy, and strong shareholder returns."

"However, these successes were overshadowed by the destruction of the Juukan Gorge rock shelters at the Brockman 4 operations in Australia and, as chairman, I am ultimately accountable for the failings that led to this tragic event," the Rio Tinto chairman said.

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First Nations leader and academic Professor Marcia Langton said the latest resignations at the big miner were not enough to rehabilitate the company in the eyes of Indigenous people.

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