Rio Tinto’s top boss has fallen on his sword as the major miner continues to be grilled over its controversial decision to destroy culturally significant Indigenous sites in Western Australia.

In an announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange on Friday, the miner’s chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques said he would step down from the position, over its bungled handling of the Juukan Gorge scandal.

In May, Rio Tinto blew up caves in the Pilbara region that had significant importance to traditional landowners.

The company’s chief executive of iron ore, Chris Salisbury and head of corporate relations, Simone Niven, will also leave the mining group by December 31.

“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,” Rio Tinto chairman Simon Thompson said.

“We are also determined to regain the trust of the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people and other Traditional Owners.”

Originally published as Rio CEO steps down over cave destruction


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