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Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) - Outgoing CEO, Jean Sébastien Jacques
Outgoing CEO, Jean Sébastien Jacques
Source: Mining.com
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  • ASX 200-listed mining giant Rio Tinto (RIO) will bid farewell to its CEO, Jean-Sébastien Jacques, as well as executives, Simone Niven and Chris Salisbury
  • Earlier this year, Rio blasted a 46,000 year-old Aboriginal heritage site as part of its plans to access high-grade iron ore and expand its Brockman 4 iron ore mine
  • Since then, the Board of Rio Tinto has engaged with shareholders, Traditional Landowners, Indigenous leaders and other stakeholders
  • This has resulted in stakeholders believing there’s a lack of accountability from Rio’s executives
  • The CEO has been with the company since 2016 and will depart on March 31 next year, unless a replacement is found earlier
  • Chief Executive of Iron Ore, Chris Salisbury and Group Executive of Corporate Relations, Simone Niven, will both leave on December 31 this year
  • Chairman Simon Thompson said Rio is determined to learn from its mistakes and re-establish its reputation as a leader
  • Company shares have dipped a slight 0.47 per cent to trade for $99.98

ASX 200-listed mining giant Rio Tinto (RIO) will bid farewell to its CEO, Jean-Sébastien Jacques, as well as executives, Simone Niven and Chris Salisbury.

The multi-billion company has found itself in many headlines this year following the tragic blast of an archaeologically significant, 46,000 year-old Aboriginal heritage site in WA.

In May, Rio blasted the Juukan Gorge rock shelters as part of its plans to access high-grade iron ore and expand its Brockman 4 iron ore mine.

“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.”

Chairman Simon Thompson.

Traditional Landowners – the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) people weren’t involved in the decision-making process and were not made fully aware of the blast until it was too late to stop it. This is despite Rio claiming it believed it had the consent of the PKKP people.

In early August, Rio released a detailed submission to the Australian Parliamentary Inquiry – basically admitting its regret for the destruction of the heritage site.

Since then, the Board of Rio Tinto has engaged with shareholders, Traditional Landowners, Indigenous leaders and other stakeholders. While J-S Jacques has frequently apologised and attempted to make things right, stakeholders have expressed concerns about executive accountability for the failings.

“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,” Simon said.

The departure of the CEO is reportedly a ‘mutual agreement’ and a replacement will be sought until his departure on March 31 2021, unless a replacement is found earlier.

“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,” he added.

Chris Salisbury, Chief Executive, Iron Ore, will also step down on December 31 2020. Managing Director for Rail, Port & Core Services, Ivan Vella, will replace him on an interim basis, following a handover period.

Simone Niven will step down as Group Executive, Corporate Relations, and will also say goodbye to the company on New Year’s Eve.

“I would also like to thank Chris and Simone for the contribution both have made to the success of Rio Tinto over many years. I know that all three individuals, like the rest of the Board, deeply regret the destruction of the Juukan rock shelters,” he said.

Simon McKeon, non-executive director, has now been appointed Senior Independent Director, effective immediately. This newly-created role will complement the existing Senior Independent Director role, which will continue to be held by Sam Laidlaw.

In a concluding statement, the Chairman said the company is determined to learn from its mistakes and re-establish its reputation as a leader.

Company shares have dipped a slight 0.47 per cent to trade for $99.98 at 10:22 am AEST.

RIO by the numbers
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