CSP report

Communities and social performance commitments disclosure

Following the destruction of the rock shelters at Juukan Gorge in May 2020, we have been changing the way we work in every part of our business, including how we manage and protect cultural heritage and engage with communities.

As part of our efforts to increase transparency, in 2021 and 2022, we released two Communities and Social Performance Commitments Disclosure Reports which detail the progress we have made. Since then, the update on our commitments is detailed in our Annual Report.

As part of our progress update, in 2021 and 2022, we asked Traditional Owner groups in the Pilbara to share feedback on our progress on some of the commitments which is included in the Disclosure reports. In 2023, we repeated this process with six out of ten Pilbara Traditional Owner entities choosing to respond. The verbatim feedback is presented below.

Progress on our Communities and Social Performance commitments 2023
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Communities and Social Performance Commitments Disclosure 2022
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Communities and Social Performance Commitments Disclosure 2021
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Creating a more respectful, diverse and inclusive company will help us become a better partner and deliver a greater social impact in host communities and countries. We know we need to do better and are determined to make a change.”

- Jakob Stausholm, Chief Executive

An important step towards rebuilding our relationship

This year we recognised two years since the destruction of the rock shelters on the land of the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people at our Brockman iron ore mine in the Pilbara.

In May, we entered a co-management heads of agreement with the PKKP Aboriginal Corporation. This agreement is an important step towards rebuilding our relationship with the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people and sets out how we will work together in partnership on approach to mining activities on Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura Country.

At the time, PKKP Aboriginal Corporation Chairman Burchell Hayes said the last two years had been, and would continue to be, incredibly painful for the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people, but there had also been ongoing effort to build a relationship with Rio Tinto.

“This agreement provides clear acknowledgement that Rio Tinto accepts that the destruction of the rock shelters should not have happened and makes clear that it is absolutely committed to listening, learning, changing and co-managing country,” Mr Hayes said in a PKKP Corporation statement.

While the agreement is non-binding, we believe it is a clear signal of intent from Rio Tinto and one that will ultimately be tested in the co-management agreement that is reached.”

Simon Trott, Chief Executive Iron Ore said that as a company, we continue to reflect on the loss at Juukan Gorge and hurt that we caused, and we are grateful for the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people’s ongoing engagement with us.

“The PKKP people have graciously shared their knowledge to help inform our approach to best practice management and protection of cultural heritage as well as how we can deliver better social and economic outcomes on the ground.

“We know we have a responsibility to help shape a better future – by seeking out, listening to, respecting and being responsive to Indigenous voices and perspectives,” Simon said.

  • Gudai-Darri, Pilbara Operations

    Changing our approach

    In our Iron Ore business, we’re embedding cultural heritage considerations from the very start of mine planning to closure.
  • Protecting cultural heritage in the Pilbara

    Protecting cultural heritage in the Pilbara

    We worked with the Yinhawangka people to co-develop a social cultural heritage management plan as part of our proposed development of the Western Range iron ore mine in the Pilbara, Western Australia. The plan includes clearly defined roles and responsibilities regarding life of mine planning, heritage site protection, water management, land access, cultural awareness training and ongoing monitoring of the area. Clint, Traditional Owner Engagement Lead in our Iron Ore business, shares how the Western Range engagement process differed to our past approach.
  • Cheslatta

    Reconciling the past

    Working together on a new project has helped reconciliation from a heavy past and strengthened our partnership with the Cheslatta Carrier Nation.
  • Developing tomorrow's Indigenous leaders

    Developing tomorrow's Indigenous leaders

    We’re partnering with the Australian Graduate School of Management at the University of New South Wales to deliver the Emerging Indigenous Executive Leaders Programme, which helps prepare Indigenous leaders for executive roles.
  • Empowering operations leaders

    Empowering our leaders on the ground

    We have increased front-line leader presence at Traditional Owner consultations and surveys so leaders can hear Traditional Owner knowledge first-hand, ensuring it will be factored into the way we operate in an area.
Hannah, Manager for Social Investment Australia


Manager for Social Investment Australia

There is a new sense of pride being an Indigenous leader at Rio now.


“You can feel a momentum and energy shift. As a leader, there is no time to sit in the shadows, we all need to step up. It doesn’t matter if we’re uncomfortable, nervous or don’t have all the answers. We all have a role to play and I believe people can see the difference we are making and the new direction we are heading as a business.

“For me, the Emerging Indigenous Executive Leadership Program was a game changer. I’ve done other leadership programmes, but it’s always a Western focused perspective of what leadership should be. EIELP focused on embracing our Indigenous values and personal experience and allowed us to feel confident to ‘walk in two worlds’ and bring our true self to work. I felt so proud hearing the stories and journeys from everyone in the EIELP group – it was a really powerful energy in the room, and we created such a strong bond with each other.

“When you’re succeeding as an Indigenous leader, you’re not winning for yourself, you’re winning for your whole mob. This is why I am so passionate about Social Investment and the work I do at Rio Tinto; I am committed to driving positive change to the people and communities around me.


Project Manager, Western Australia and Wiradjuri Man
I was one of the first Indigenous cadets to start at Rio. This was 15 years ago. Back then I had my first glimpse into the mining world and I remember seeing the big trucks and just thinking wow - what an exciting and dynamic industry, with so much opportunity.
Kurt, Project Manager, Western Australia


After graduating from the cadetship and getting a good few years’ experience across the country on various sites the support for my development really dropped off and I felt I was on my own.

“The Emerging Indigenous Leadership Programme (EILP) has really made a difference. I’ve managed to make a step-change in my personal development and become a more confident leader. Not only did I get guidance, but it helped me better connect with our Indigenous cohort. This connection is so important because together we share a lot of ideas and we’re a lot stronger. The EIELP course was also the first leadership programme I’ve been involved in that had culture as a centrepiece. From the very beginning, it was delivered in a way that is culturally safe.

“As a cohort, we all had common ground. And with that, we were able to build a level of trust very quickly. And then with the trust came vulnerability and in this safe environment, we gained confidence. Confidence meant we have a lot more drive, a lot more influence and the ability to make change if we want to see a difference across the business and in our communities.

“I can understand why people may feel reluctant to participate in programmes like this – it can feel tokenistic, but I really encourage anyone who is thinking of doing it, or something similar, to go for it. I took the chance and got to connect with likeminded colleagues, some really clever people, and create a connection between leaders as a support network that you can tap into across the business – for me, that in itself was really helpful”.

Kurt is a Wiradjuri man who started with us 15 years ago as one of the first Indigenous cadets. He is now a Project Manager based in Western Australia working on some of our major iron ore mine development and closure projects.

1,531 (6.4%)

Indigenous employees in Australia


Indigenous leaders in Australia (November 2020: 6 leaders)

25 (18%)

Indigenous graduates in Australia


Increase in spend with Australian Indigenous businesses since 2020

Indigenous business figures include Traditional Owner business that are affiliated with Indigenous groups that have Land Use Agreements in place around our Australian assets.

Helping careers take off

Finding a job after high school can be daunting for any new graduate. But when you grow up in the remote Kimberley region in Western Australia, fewer employers and less access to training are extra challenges to add to the list.

So in partnership with Derby District High School, we’re working to offer their students more career options with a programme that sets graduates up for success in the exciting and emerging field of drone aviation.

Since 2021, we’ve been funding a Remote Drone Pilot License Course at the school. The programme – which prepares participants to fly drones for fields like mining, defence, photography, search and rescue, tourism, ranger and station work – equips students with a Remote Drone Pilot License qualification through the ACE Aviation Aerospace Academy, and a Certificate III in Aviation.

"We hope that by supporting initiatives like this, we can help equip students with new skills and empower them for new opportunities," said Kent, our General Manager for Yandicoogina Operations.

The course is the only one of its kind in the Kimberley and is nationally accredited through the ACE Aviation Aerospace Academy.

"The programme has changed the lives of students and builds their confidence," said Mohammed, Deputy Principal at Derby District High School. "It has brought the students and the community of Derby together.”

The 2021 cohort’s graduates have already started on promising career pathways because of their new qualifications.

And we’re fortunate that 4 of those 14 graduates have already chosen to join our business.

Kezia'a is one of these 2021 graduates, who’s joined our Perth Operations Centre as an ATAS Trainee Train Controller. When she finishes her traineeship, she’ll add a Certificate IV in Rail Network Control to her list of qualifications.

"The course makes a big difference to a young person's life and creates opportunities for them," she said.

“Learning the procedures and applying critical thinking while flying the drones are important skills I’ve got out of the course that will help me with my new role at the Operations Centre.”

Another 2021 programme graduate, Jasmine, has accepted an Administration Trainee role at our Marandoo operation in the West Pilbara.

“I am definitely excited about starting a new career and learning new skills which will help develop not only my career but also myself,” said Jasmine.

“By doing the drone course at school and achieving my certificate III in Aviation, I met a few people from Rio Tinto and they really helped me get the job I have now. I am hoping that students who think school is nothing but a waste of time will understand the experience and opportunities school can give you, because without school I probably wouldn’t have the job that I have now.”

We’ve committed to an additional 3 years of funding for the programme, with 21 students now enrolled in the 2022 cohort.

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