Rio Tinto CEO to Step Down After Destroying 46,000-year-old Australian Indigenous Site

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by Tolu Ajiboye · 3 min read
Rio Tinto CEO to Step Down After Destroying 46,000-year-old Australian Indigenous Site
Photo: Depositphotos

Following the destruction of the Australian indigenous site against the landowners wishes, Rio Tinto investors seek candidates to replace CEO Jacques.

Rio Tinto (NYSE: RIO) CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques has resigned following investors’ revolt over the destruction of a 46,000-year-old indigenous site in Australia. The company said that Jacques will depart at the end of March 2021 or once a successor is chosen.

In May, the world’s largest metals and mining corporation, Rio Tinto, destroyed the indigenous site in the Pilbara Desert of Western Australia. This action was against the wishes of the traditional landowners – the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people.

Rio Tinto CEO Resigns

Now, CEO Jacques will step down from his position due to pressure from investors. According to the shareholders and analysts, the company may replace Jacques with an outsider. Macquarie analyst Hayden Bairstow said:

“Clearly from the comments of the chairman they want to reset the culture, which would imply an external candidate would be more likely than an internal one.”

According to a Reuters report, the company hopes to repair its community relations with the new appointment. Adding that Jacques neglected operations and the copper business, two fund managers revealed that Rio Tinto will appoint a CEO who will focus on those areas.

Emphasizing on the neglected roles, an investment banker pleading anonymity said:

“Rio was the benchmark for operations, but in the last 18 months they’ve lost that title.”

In June, Rio Tinto apologized for the destruction of the Juukan Gorge caves, to expand its Australian iron ore mine. The company’s chairman Simon Thompson commented on the destruction of the Huukan caves which contained articrafts. After describing the action as “wrong”, he assured that such will not re-occur:

“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 operation.”

Apart from Jacques, some other executives of the mining company are also stepping down. Chris Salisbury, head of the iron ore business will retire from his position immediately and leave the company at the end of the year. In addition, group executive for corporate relations, Simone Niven will depart in December.

Rio Eyes External Candidate

To replace Jacques, analysts and investors have mentioned potential external candidates. They include CEO Mark Cutifani of South Africa mining company Anglo American Plc (LON: AAL) and Orica’s (AXS: ORI) CEO Alberto Calderon. Others are Nev Power, the former Fortescue Metals Group (AXS: FMG) chief, and Zoe Yujnovich. Yujnovich previously managed Rio’s Canadian iron ore business.

An analyst who also chose anonymity commented on Yujnovich’s skills and experience. The analyst said the candidate has relevant mining background, government relationships, as well as strong Australian roots.

Furthermore, a company fund manager noted that Rio’s aluminium chief Alf Barrios is also a potential candidate.

Currently at a premarket trading price of $62.36, RIO is up 2.41% over its previous close of $60.89.  Also, the company has climbed 11.01% in the past year and nearly 3% in 2020. Rio Tinto also increased 5.90% in the last three months.

However, the Anglo-Australian company has been declining recently. In the past month, it fell 1.14% and nearly 1% in the last five days.

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Tolu Ajiboye
Author Tolu Ajiboye

Tolu is a cryptocurrency and blockchain enthusiast based in Lagos. He likes to demystify crypto stories to the bare basics so that anyone anywhere can understand without too much background knowledge. When he's not neck-deep in crypto stories, Tolu enjoys music, loves to sing and is an avid movie lover.

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