Executive Insights

Rio Tinto CEO loses his bonus after the company blows up 46,000-year-old rock shelters

Business Insider US
Rio Tinto Chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques,
Rio Tinto Chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
  • Three executives from Australian mining company Rio Tinto will lose their bonuses this year after destroying an ancient Aboriginal site to expand an iron ore mine.
  • While the demolition was legal, the caves had been around for 46,000 years and was a site of importance.
  • In a report submitted to Rio Tinto before the expansion, an expert said the archaeological significance of the shelters could "not be overstated."
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Three top Rio Tinto executives – including its CEO - will lose millions in bonuses after the mining company destroyed Australian indigenous sacred sites to mine iron ore.

In May, two 46,000-year-old rock shelters were demolished in Juukan Gorge in Western Australia state, AP reports. Rio Tinto said on Monday that three executives would lose bonuses following the destruction of the sites.

Rio Tinto CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques will lose $4.9 million (R83 million) in bonuses over the next year, The Guardian reports. The head of Rio Tinto Iron ore, Chris Salisbury, will lose his bonus of $1.1 million this year, and the global group executive of corporate relations, Simone Niven, will lose almost $960,000.

"The destruction of the rock shelters should not have happened and we are absolutely committed to listening, learning and changing," Rio Tinto said in a statement. Local communities have been fighting the iron ore mine expansion for years before the incident, in an effort to protect the shelters which still contain animal remains and stone tools.

In a report submitted to Rio Tinto before the expansion, an expert said the archaeological significance of the shelters could "not be overstated."

Louise Davidson, the CEO of the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors, said in a statement to CNN that "The report from the Rio Tinto board review does not deliver any meaningful accountability for the destruction of some of the most significant cultural sites in Australia."

“Remuneration appears to be the only sanction applied to executives,” Davidson told The Guardian. “This raises the question – does the company feel that £4 million (about R118 million) is the right price for the destruction of cultural heritage?”


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