(Sharecast News) - Rio Tinto's shareholders have voted down the miner's pay report over bonuses awarded to former executives who were responsible for blowing up ancient Aboriginal caves.
More than 60% of shareholder votes opposed the pay report at the FTSE 100 company's annual general meeting. Shareholders were protesting against the decision to award share-based bonuses to former chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques, the departed head of its iron ore business and the ex-corporate relations chief.
All three former executives were forced to quit in 2020 after the company destroyed a 46,000-year-old Aboriginal site in May to expand an iron ore mine despite being told it was sacred ground. Chairman Simon Thompson will quit by the next AGM because of the disaster.
Almost a quarter of votes were cast against the re-election of Megan Clark to the board because she chaired Rio Tinto's sustainability committee when the Juukan Gorge site in Western Australia was destroyed.
Rio Tinto said the vote against the remuneration report counted as a "first strike" under Australian company law. If the pay report is voted down next year, shareholders will be able to replace the board.
The vote is not binding and Rio Tinto said it would talk to shareholders in light of the revolt. The company said it had explained its pay decisions to investors and proxy advisers and had tightened up its policy.
Rio Tinto said: "The board acknowledges that the executive pay outcomes in relation to the tragic events at Juukan Gorge are sensitive and contentious issues."
The company said Clark would stay on the board because almost 75% of votes supported her and she was doing an important job connecting with traditional owners of lands where it operates in Western Australia.
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