Rio Tinto debates future of chief executive over desecration of Aboriginal sites

Rio Tinto’s board will debate the future of chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques as it faces pressure to respond more strongly to the destruction of ancient Aboriginal heritage sites in Australia, according to people familiar with the matter.

Recent talks with shareholders, traditional landowners and legislators indicated the company needs to take further action to restore relations with key decision-makers in Western Australia, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information.

The Australian state is crucial for the world’s second largest miner, hosting iron ore operations that accounted for more than 90 per cent of its first-half profits.

The board will discuss additional penalties over the May explosions, including whether Mr Jacques and other key executives should remain in their roles, at a meeting that is expected to take place before the end of this week, some of the people said.

A move to oust Mr Jacques would represent a sharp reversal for Rio, after chairman Simon Thompson last month backed the 48-year-old to lead the company’s response to the incident. – Bloomberg


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