Rio Tinto chief faces calls to resign after Aboriginal site demolition
7 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.
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” and said it had made its position clear to Rio’s senior management and board. “AustralianSuper will be seeking to ensure there is true accountability in response to the actions by Rio Tinto,” said Andrew Gray, director of ESG and stewardship at the fund.
Hesta, a A$52bn pension fund that invests in Rio, said it had also conveyed its disappointment to the mining group. If “appropriate improvements” did not occur, it said it would consider measures to push for greater accountability at Rio’s next annual meeting.
“Like all investors, we need to have confidence that Rio’s board understands and has the capability to set and uphold an appropriate corporate culture, and to align public positions with operational decisions,” Hesta said in a statement.