#10599247 at 2020-09-11 05:31:28 (UTC+1) Q Research General #13563: Excellent Q - you should ask (as should every American) Edition
Rio Tinto boss Jean-Sebastien Jacques quits over Juukan Gorge blast
Rio Tinto's chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques will resign "by mutual agreement" following the destruction of Aboriginal heritage sites by the company this year.
Jean-Sebastien Jacques is leaving Rio Tinto early next year after more than four years as CEO
Two other senior executives, the heads of iron ore and corporate affairs, are also leaving
The departures are in response to Rio Tinto's destruction of ancient Aboriginal cultural heritage sites in May this year
The company's head of iron ore ChrisSalisbury and head of corporate relations Simone Niven have also stepped down.
Mr Salisbury and Ms Niven will leave the company by the end of the year, following handover periods with their replacements.
Mr Jacques will stay at the company until March 31, 2021, or until his successor is appointed, which Rio Tinto said is to "ensure business continuity".
Rio has been under intense pressure to sack the three executives following the miner's decision to destroy ancient Aboriginal heritage sites in the Juukan Gorge in May.
"What happened at Juukan was wrong and we are determined to ensure that the destruction of a heritage site of such exceptional archaeological and cultural significance never occurs again at a Rio Tinto operation," Rio chairman Simon Thompson said in a statement.
Australia's human history is being wiped away
The destruction of ancient Indigenous sites like the Juukan caves is not new for Western Australia.
"We are also determined to regain the trust of the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people and other Traditional Owners."
Chairman says investors played a key role in staffing decision
Mr Thompson acknowledged that shareholder concerns played a significant role in the eventual decision to part ways with the three executives who were seen as directly accountable for the Juukan Gorge blasting.
"We have listened to our stakeholders' concerns that a lack of individual accountability undermines the group's ability to rebuild that trust and to move forward to implement the changes identified in the board review."
#10601128 at 2020-09-11 10:49:46 (UTC+1) Q Research AUSTRALIA #9 - Welcome to the Digital Battlefield Edition
Resignations in the news
Rio Tinto CEO, top executives resign amid cave blast crisis
Rio Tinto boss Jean-Sebastien Jacques and two senior executives will be replaced after an investor revolt forced the mining giant's board to escalate its response to the blasting of the ancient Juukan Gorge rock shelters.
Mr Jacques, Rio's iron ore division boss ChrisSalisbury and corporate affairs boss Simone Niven will depart the company within six months, the board said, following a series of crisis meetings held this week.
In a statement issued on Friday morning, the board said Mr Jacques, 48, would stay as chief executive until the appointment of his successor or until March 31, whichever was earlier.
The decision comes after months of escalating pressure from Aboriginal groups, top shareholders and government leaders over Rio Tinto's decision to destroy the two culturally significant rock shelters in Western Australia's Pilbara region, which had evidence of continual human occupation tracing back at least 46,000 years.
Mr Jacques, Mr Salisbury and Ms Niven - whose department oversees community relations - were last month stripped of $7 million of their 2020 bonuses after a board-led review found they had to bear some responsibility.
Rio chairman Simon Thompson said at the time no one would be stood down over the matter, because the board had decided they were the best people to lead the critical reforms to heritage processes that were required.
However, the bonus cuts failed to satisfy many shareholders and Indigenous leaders who told board members that docking the pay of well-paid executives fell significantly short of true accountability for the destruction of such a significant site.
Mr Thompson said on Friday the dramatic escalation of penalties had been prompted by a series of "important stakeholders" voicing concerns about executive accountability for the failings identified.
"There were certainly some shareholders who felt strongly that the accountability was inappropriate and that this was an issue that needed to be addressed to rebuild trust," Mr Thompson told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.
In order to enhance the board's focus and engagement in Australia, Simon McKeon, a non-executive director and former Australian of the Year for his philanthropic endeavours, would be appointed as Rio's senior independent director immediately.
Among the prominent investors to denounce the board's proposed financial penalties were AustralianSuper, HESTA, Unisuper and a group of 81 British pension funds, which made their demands for greater sanctions clear.
The National Native Title Council wrote to Mr Thompson describing the pay cuts as wholly inadequate and accusing the board of being "divorced from reality".
The blasting of the Juukan Gorge was legally sanctioned as part of a long-planned expansion of Rio's Brockman 4 iron ore mine, but it went against the wishes of the land's traditional owners, the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) people, who said they were shocked and left devastated.
Although Rio Tinto claimed it believed it had the PKKP's consent until it was too late to stop the blast safely, the miner has issued public apologies and has acknowledged multiple failures in its communication with the traditional owners that could have prevented the debacle.
"What happened at Juukan was wrong," Mr Thompson said on Friday. "We are determined to ensure the destruction of a heritage site of such exceptional archaeological and cultural significance never occurs again at a Rio Tinto operation."
Ancient artefacts unearthed at the Juukan Gorge shelters - including grinding and pounding stones, a 28,000-year-old marsupial bone sharpened into a tool and a 4000-year-old belt made of plaited human hair with DNA linking it directly to today's PKKP people - had placed the caves among the most significant archaeological research sites in Australia.
The loss of the site has highlighted the power imbalance between Australia's mining industry and traditional owners and raises questions now being considered by a federal parliamentary inquiry about the need for stronger legal protections for traditional owners to safeguard heritage sites on their ancestral land.
A spokeswoman for the PKKP Aboriginal Corporation said on Friday it had no comment to make on the executive resignations, but it would continue to work with Rio Tinto.
"Our focus continues to rest heavily on preserving Aboriginal heritage and advocating for wide-ranging changes to ensure a tragedy like this never happens again," she said. "We cannot and will not allow this type of devastation to occur ever again."