Rio Tinto chairman Simon Thompson will step down next year in response to investor stigma over the mining company’s destruction last year of a sacred 46,000-year-old native. site in Western Australia.
The Anglo-Australian miner said on Wednesday that Thompson, a Briton, would not seek re-election at the company’s annual meetings, scheduled for April and May 2022, and that he would start looking for a successor.
Thompson’s decision to step down follows a storm of criticism over the council’s initial decision not to fire any of the leaders responsible for the explosion of two former rock shelters at Juukan Gorge in May 2020 – an event that sparked a global reaction against Rio.
Pressure from Australian pension funds and other investors forced the resignation of former Rio CEO Jean-Sébastien Jacques and two other top executives in September last year.
However, Rio’s revelation last month that Jacques received a 20% pay rise in 2020 despite the cave explosion scandal sparked new accusations of the miner’s lack of responsibility.
Thompson said in a statement Wednesday that he “was ultimately responsible for the failures that led to this tragic event” at Juukan Gorge, which eclipsed Rio’s other successes in 2020, including the biggest dividend in its history.
“The tragic events at Juukan Gorge are a source of personal sadness and deep regret, in addition to being a flagrant violation of our…
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