Rio Tinto boss forfeits bonus over loss of Aboriginal caves
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.