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Gold Fields reviewing approvals given at Australian sites after Rio Tinto cave blast

Fri, 11th Sep 2020 18:46

JOHANNESBURG, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Miner Gold Fields
said on Friday it was reviewing the approvals given to each of
its Australian sites after Rio Tinto destroyed
historically significant Aboriginal rockshelters which led to
the resignation of its chief executive.

Rio Tinto said earlier on Friday chief executive
Jean-Sébastien Jacques and two other executives would step down
following an outcry over its decision in May to detonate part of
an ancient gorge that showed 46,000 years of human habitation.

Gold Fields, which has operations in Australia including its
Granny Smith and Gruyere mines, said it was already acting in
response to the situation its rival had found itself in.

"As a result of the Rio incident, two months ago we
initiated a review of previous legal approvals that each
Australian site had received from the regulator," Gold Fields
spokesman Sven Lunsche said in response to questions from
Reuters on its approach to the heritage issue.

The company said it was determining which approvals would
require further engagement with Indigenous stakeholders if they
were to mine or explore in the areas.

"We have also undertaken a review of the gaps identified in
Gold Fields' heritage management processes as part of a critical
control audit in late 2019, with a particular focus on
relationships with Aboriginal stakeholders," Lunsche said.

Johannesburg-listed Gold Fields said it was closely
following a review of relevant state and national legislation
initiated by the Australian government.

"In our other countries of operation we don't mine in areas
that are culturally sensitive," said Lunsche.

The gold miner also operates in South Africa, West Africa,
Chile and Peru.

Local rival AngloGold Ashanti, which has two
operations in Australia, declined to comment.

The blasts drew international condemnation and damaged Rio
Tinto's reputation for its dealings with indigenous groups in
its worldwide operations.

The backlash has also resonated across boardrooms, with
billions of dollars poured into companies based on
environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors giving
ethically-minded investors greater influence in how companies
handle corporate crises.
(Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

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