Rio Tinto chairman and board director to resign over sacred Aboriginal site destruction

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The chairman and a board director of Rio Tinto will resign over the Juukan Gorge disaster.

 A Rio Tinto reclaimer working in the Yandicoogina stockyard in Western Australia's Pilbara region.

A Rio Tinto reclaimer working in the Yandicoogina stockyard in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. Photo: AFP

The big miner announced chairman Simon Thompson and non-executive director Michael L’Estrange, a former top public servant, would step down ahead of next year’s annual shareholder meeting.

Last year, Rio destroyed two 46,000-year-old caves in the Pilbara region in Australia against the wishes of the traditional owners, the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP).

The former chief executive and two top executives were forced to resign last year over the scandal.

Thompson said that as chairman, he was ultimately accountable for the destruction of the sacred Aboriginal site.

L’Estrange led a widely discredited internal review of the Juukan incident.

Investors had been calling for both Thompson and L’Estrange to step down.

Many investors were also unhappy that Rio appointed former chief financial officer Jakob Stausholm, an internal candidate, late last year to replace former boss Jacques instead of an outsider.

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