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Rio Tinto chairman to stand down after cave blast uproar

The company said Mr Thompson will not seek re-election at the miner’s 2022 annual general meeting.

Rio Tinto chairman Simon Thompson will step down from his position in 2022. (Rio Tinto)

“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,” Mr Thompson said.

“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.

“While I am pleased with the progress we have made in many areas, the tragic events at Juukan Gorge are a source of personal sadness and deep regret, as well as being a clear breach of our values as a company.”

Photo of the Juukan Gorge, some 60 kilometres north-west of Mount Tom Price in Western Australia
Rio Tinto has faced a backlash after it destroyed an ancient cave site at Juukan Gorge, north-west of Mount Tom Price in Western Australia. (PPKP)

Mr Thompson had faced calls to step down over the incident.

The rock shelters were detonated legally, but investors and the community were outraged.

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New Rio Tinto chief executive Jakob Stausholm said last month he had recently travelled to the Pilbara to meet local indigenous people, who remain shocked by the destruction.

New Rio Tinto CEO Jakob Stausholm has apologised for the destruction of ancient caves.. (Photo: Philip Gostelow) (Nine)

He said he used the visit to “express my deep regret about the damage we caused”.

Last month Rio Tinto – the world’s leading iron ore producer – delivered the biggest dividend in its history – $7.18 a share – following a rise in iron ore prices since last year.

Source: 9News | World News

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