Business & Economy

Rio Tinto chairman to step down over destruction of aboriginal caves

Sydney, Australia, Mar 3 (efe-epa).- The chairman and a board director of mining company Rio Tinto will not renew his position and will leave the company this year over the blasting scandal last May of two 46,000-year-old Aboriginal shelters.

Simon Thompson, who has held the post for seven years, will not seek re-election at the 2022 annual general meeting, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

The blasting of the ancient Kuukan Gorge rock shelters in Pilbara, northwestern Australian, last year was aimed at expanding the company’s iron ore mining operations.

“I am ultimately accountable for the failings that led to this tragic event,” Thompson said.

His future departure, which was announced alongside the retirement of non-executive director Michael L’Estrange, comes after Rio Tinto CEO Jean-Sébastien Jacques and two other senior executives announced their resignations in September.

In August, Rio Tinto published an internal report, led by L’Estrange, on the destruction of the caves in a remote sacred area for the traditional owners, the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura aboriginal people.

Rio Tinto had obtained permits for the detonations in 2013, but a year later important archaeological discoveries were found in the caves, which showed that they are the only places in the interior with evidence of having been occupied by humans since the Ice Age.

Rio Tinto indicated that the expansion would bring it an additional $98 million from the extraction of high-grade iron. EFE-EPA

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