Rio Tinto boss for­feits bonus over loss of Abo­rig­i­nal caves

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Front Page - By Ed Clowes

THE boss of Rio Tinto is to miss out on al­most £3m of pay af­ter the com­pany blew up one of Aus­tralia’s old­est ar­chae­o­log­i­cal sites to make way for an iron ore mine.

Jean-Se­bastien Jac­ques will lose about £2.7m in bonuses fol­low­ing an out­cry over the de­struc­tion of the 46,000-year-old Abo­rig­i­nal cave at Juukan Gorge, Western Aus­tralia – a rock shel­ter de­scribed as one of the most sig­nif­i­cant finds in the coun­try. Min­ing ti­tan Rio stripped Mr Jac­ques and other ex­ec­u­tives of their bonuses af­ter an in­ter­nal review, which con­cluded that the de­struc­tion in May was caused by a string of mis­takes rather than any one per­son’s de­ci­sion. The com­pany stopped short of fir­ing any mem­bers of staff.

In­vestors and crit­ics alike at­tacked the re­port’s find­ings amid calls for ex­ec­u­tives to be axed. The Aus­tralian Coun­cil of Su­per­an­nu­a­tion In­vestors, which rep­re­sents dozens of large pen­sion funds, hit out at the review for fail­ing to de­liver “any mean­ing­ful ac­count­abil­ity”.

Call­ing in­stead for an in­de­pen­dent, ex­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Louise David­son, the coun­cil’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, said: “Re­mu­ner­a­tion ap­pears to be the only sanc­tion ap­plied to ex­ec­u­tives. This raises the question – does the com­pany feel that £4m is the right price for the de­struc­tion of cul­tural her­itage?” Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Aus­tralia – which pro­motes di­a­logue between Abo­rig­i­nal groups and gov­ern­ment bod­ies – called the re­port’s find­ings a “breath­tak­ing breach of a re­spect­ful re­la­tion­ship”.

Mr Jac­ques will lose about £2.7m in bonuses, while iron ore di­vi­sion chief Chris Sal­is­bury and cor­po­rate re­la­tions head Si­mone Niven will also lose about £600,000 and £525,000 re­spec­tively.

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