(Alliance News) - Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto PLC said Friday that by mutual agreement, Chief Executive Officer Jean-Sebastian Jacques will resign from his role with effect on March 31, or earlier should a successor be appointed before then.
In May, Rio Tinto had blasted rock shelters in the Juukan Gorge in Western Australia's remote Pilbara region, destroying one of the earliest known sites occupied by Australia's indigenous people in order to expand its iron ore mine.
Following a board review in August, the group said it had engaged extensively with shareholders, some of which had expressed concerns about executive accountability for the failings identified.
Also stepping down is Iron Ore Chief Executive Chris Salisbury and Corporate Relations Executive Simone Niven, with both to leaving at the end of 2020.
Ivan Vella, who is managing director of Rail, Port & Care Services within Rio Tinto Iron Ore will replace Salisbury on an interim basis, and for Corporate Relations, the group will form a new Social Performance assurance function, with Mark Davies as the head.
Jacques has been CEO of Rio Tinto for four years, taking over in 2016, and prior to that was the head of its Copper & Coal business for five years, from 2011 to 2016.
"What happened at Juukan was wrong and we are determined to ensure that the destruction of a heritage site of such exceptional archaeological and cultural significance never occurs again at a Rio Tinto operation. We are also determined to regain the trust of the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people and other Traditional Owners. We have listened to our stakeholders' concerns that a lack of individual accountability undermines the group's ability to rebuild that trust and to move forward to implement the changes identified in the board review," said Chair Simon Thompson.
"I would like to thank J-S for his strong leadership of the group since becoming chief executive in 2016. During that time, he has led the best safety performance in Rio Tinto's history, simplified the portfolio, divested the group's coal assets, established a clear strategy to address climate change and generated exceptional shareholder returns. His leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic, in particular, has been exemplary," Thompson added.
Shares in Rio Tinto were down 1.0% at AUD99.42 on Friday in Sydney. In London, the shares closed at 4,784.00 pence each on Thursday.
By Dayo Laniyan; firstname.lastname@example.org
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