Juukan Gorge destruction : investor collaboration drives new transparency commitments by Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto has today agreed to more transparent disclosure and discussion of its steps towards rebuilding processes and relationships in the wake of the Juukan Gorge disaster.

Rio’s commitments follow extended collaborative international engagement with investors, including UK, European, and Australian asset owners, who were seeking public re-assurance that the company is now appropriately managing the risks which led to the destruction of such culturally and spiritually significant places.

Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) CEO Louise Davidson said: “Following the devastating destruction of the Juukan Gorge caves, with their 46,000-year history of continual occupation by Traditional Owners, Rio Tinto has faced a massive challenge to rebuild relationships with first nations communities, and its reputation more broadly.”

“The disaster identified significant cultural and operational failures at Rio Tinto and undermined the confidence of the communities on whose land it works.”

“Investors have been working with Rio Tinto to facilitate timely and public disclosures of the work it has been doing to improve how it operates, meet Parliamentary recommendations and rebuild confidence – to ensure such an event never happens again.”

“It is positive to see Rio Tinto commit to work more closely with traditional owners, investors, government and other stakeholders to review their cultural heritage framework and improve internal practices.”

“The international investor collaboration worked to identify transparent measures for Rio Tinto to disclose against, including rebuilding trust with first nations communities, improvements to culture and operations, and advocacy on sector-wide improvements to cultural heritage.”

“Investors will continue to engage with Rio Tinto, and other companies with cultural heritage exposures, to understand how they are managing these risks and measuring against commitments,” Ms Davidson said.

New Rio Tinto measures

Rio Tinto has agreed to the adopt the following transparency measures:

  1. Ongoing progress against our own commitments and internal work-streams, external obligations and recommendations.
  2. How Traditional Owners’ views are being sought and considered in shaping these commitments and Traditional Owners perspectives on how successfully these commitments are being met.
  3. The enhanced governance arrangements in place to oversee the company’s progress against these actions.
  4. How the company is working to advocate for enhanced sector-wide cultural heritage management and how this is consistent with internal standards.

The investor group was coordinated by HESTA, and included The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI), Australian Super, Aviva, Aware Super, Brunel Pension Partnership, CareSuper, Catholic Superannuation Fund & Equip Super, Cbus, Council of Ethics of the Swedish National Pension Funds,  EOS at Federated Hermes, HESTA, IFM Investors, Local Government Super, LUCRF Super, M&G Investments, Telstra Super, UBS Global Asset Management, UniSuper, USS Investment Management, Victorian Funds Management Corporation, Vision Super.

Media contact: Nathan Robertson (0423 874 662)

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