Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) Juukan Goof Reconciliation Efforts Questioned


Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO) is poised to face another challenge concerning the Juukan Gorge cave blast with the Board of the Company under pressure from investors regarding the indigenous cave blast as the native group accuses the miner of breaking a personal promise.

Pilbara Landscape View (Source: © Rio Tinto 2020

The traditional aboriginal owners of the scared rock shelter, destroyed by the miner for extending its Brockman 4 mine at the Pilbara region, have indicated that a frequent shifting of the management handling the reconciliation matter with the aboriginal community is preventing concerned groups to build longstanding relationships of trust.

The representative of the aboriginal community – the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) has mentioned in some interviews that Rio’s Chairman Simon Thompson had promised that the acting head of iron ore business of the miner – Ivan Vella, would lead reconciliation efforts through to its end.

However, the PKKP group has now received a letter from the Chairman saying that Mr Vella would move to Canada to head the aluminium business of the miner, and the Chief Commercial Officer – Simon Trott would now take charge of the iron ore business while seeing to the reconciliation efforts.

In a statement, the group has now mentioned that such management reshuffling is making the reconciliation difficult while preventing trust building between the miner and traditional landowners of the Juukan Gorge site.

The resurfacing of the long pending issue is causing unease among investors, and many industry experts even anticipate that Mr Thompson is likely to face pressure from investors to step down.

Rio is already facing a threat of paying $250 million in penalties for blasting the Juukan caves, which contained ancient rock shelters and had served as a sacred site for traditional aboriginal landowners while containing great archaeological significance with evidence of early civilisation.

In its previous conduct, Rio conducted an internal inquiry into the matter, leading to a lot of turnaround in the management with the resignation of the CEO J-S Jacques through mutual agreement. Apart from that, the Company slashed bonuses for senior management and conducted a management reshuffle.

Also, Rio previously submitted to the Australian parliamentary inquiry concerning the same.

To Know More, Do Read: Juukan Gorge Goof-Up Haunts Rio, Miner Under Investor Advocacy

However, despite all conducts and a profound internal review, many media channels currently speculate that the miner could face a potential penalty of up to $250 million in the matter.

The current speculation around the potential plenty came into the limelight after the parliamentary committee released an interim report yesterday concerning the blast, making several recommendations concerning the same.

In a list of many recommendations, the committee also suggested compensation for the damage done by the miner, which took the economic value of the sites into consideration.



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