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Inquiry into Juukan Gorge

We deeply regret the events at Juukan Gorge and have unreservedly apologised to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people (PKKP). The destruction of the rockshelters should not have happened, and we are absolutely committed to listening, learning and changing.

We are working closely with the PKKP people, and have already taken immediate actions to strengthen cultural heritage governance, controls and approvals in iron ore. And we are increasing our focus on the importance of our relationships with Traditional Owners.

We have also recognised that we do not have enough Indigenous people in leadership roles. So we have committed $50 million to attract, develop and retain Indigenous professionals into our company. 

Looking ahead, we need to find a way to give a greater voice to Traditional Owners in the decision-making process in relation to mining on their land. We support an appeal right in the Western Australia government’s section 18 review process and – at Rio Tinto – we will need to modernise our partnership with Traditional Owners, and agreements.

We know we cannot change the past. But we are absolutely committed to doing better in the future.

Rio Tinto Board Review

The Rio Tinto Board of Directors conducted a review of our cultural heritage management processes, procedures, reporting and governance.  

The full findings of the review may be found below. The media release may be found here.

Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Destruction of the Rockshelters at the Juukan Gorge in the Pilbara region of Western Australia

 

On 31 July we made our submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia. This submission may be found below.

 

 

On 7 August we appeared before the Inquiry, and took some questions on notice. We submitted our answers and a number of additional points to the Inquiry on 3 September. These may be found below.

 

Latest Media Releases

11 September 2020

Rio Tinto Executive Committee changes

MELBOURNE, Australia--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Following the publication on 24 August 2020 of the Board Review of Cultural Heritage Management (the Board Review), undertaken in response to the destruction of the Juukan rockshelters in May 2020, the Board of Rio Tinto has engaged extensively with shareholders, Traditional Owners, Indigenous leaders and other stakeholders. While there is general recogn

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11 September 2020

リオティント エグゼクティブ・コミッティー改編のお知らせ

2020年5月の西オーストラリア州ユーカン地区の洞窟遺跡破壊に関する文化遺産管理に関する取締役会の調査(ボード・レビュー)が同年8月24日に発表した調査報告の内容を受けて、リオティントの取締役会は株主、伝統的土地所有者、先住民族の指導者などのステークホルダーと広範に話し合いを持ってきました。

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04 September 2020

Rio Tinto provides additional information to Parliamentary Inquiry on Juukan Gorge

MELBOURNE, Australia--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Rio Tinto has provided additional information to the Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into the destruction of the rockshelters at the Juukan Gorge in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The additional information relates to questions taken on notice when Rio Tinto provided evidence to the Inquiry Committee and additional questions received from the

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Key Statements on Juukan Gorge

  • Statement on Juukan Gorge: 12 June 2020
    Rio Tinto will fully cooperate with the Inquiry by the Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia while also continuing to support the West Australian government in the reform of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (WA). We are committed to engaging with the rest of the industry, Traditional Owner Groups, and federal and state governments across a number of areas relating to cultural heritage approvals and processes, and the broad contribution of the resources sector to Australia.

    We are very sorry for the distress we have caused the PKKP in relation to Juukan Gorge and our first priority remains rebuilding trust with the PKKP.  Rio Tinto has a long history of working in partnership and creating shared value with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities around our operations and across Australia more broadly.  We remain absolutely committed to continuing to do so.

    We believe the mining industry has a critical role to play in contributing to the future prosperity of all Australians.

    Jean-Sebastien Jacques, Chief Executive


  • Statement on Juukan Gorge: 31 May 2020
    We pay our respects to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura People (PKKP), and we are sorry for the distress we have caused. Our relationship with the PKKP matters a lot to Rio Tinto, having worked together for many years.

    We have operated on PKKP country under a comprehensive and mutually agreed Participation Agreement since 2011.

    At Juukan, in partnership with the PKKP, we followed a heritage approval process for more than 10 years. In 2014 we performed a large-scale exercise in the Juukan area to preserve significant cultural heritage artefacts, recovering approximately 7,000 objects.

    We will continue to work with the PKKP to learn from what has taken place and strengthen our partnership. As a matter of urgency, we are reviewing the plans of all other sites in the Juukan Gorge area.

    From a broader perspective, as we already work within all existing frameworks, we will launch a comprehensive review of our heritage approach, engaging Traditional Owners to help identify, understand and recommend ways to improve the process.

    Three decades ago we were the first mining company to recognise native title. Today we also recognise that a review is needed in relation to the management of heritage in Western Australia more broadly, and we will advocate where relevant for legislative reform.

    The mining industry supports all Australians by providing jobs, supporting small business, and paying taxes and royalties. We remain committed to doing so in a way that provides economic development opportunities and facilitates the preservation and sharing of traditional culture.

    As a company with strong ties and a long history of partnership with Indigenous Australians we are committed to updating our practices and working together so that we can co-exist for mutual benefit.

    Chris Salisbury, Chief Executive, Iron Ore

  • Statement on Juukan Gorge: 27 May 2020

    Working with the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura People

    Rio Tinto takes cultural heritage and partnerships with Traditional Owner groups very seriously. We were the first mining company in Australia to embrace Traditional Owners’ native title rights and interests, and we have a long history of recognising and working to safeguard areas of cultural significance.

    We have had a longstanding relationship with the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura People for over two decades and have been working together on the Juukan area since 2003, which includes having secured the necessary approvals for mining activity in consultation with the PKKP.

    Chris Salisbury, Chief Executive, Iron Ore

    The PKKP and Rio Tinto signed a comprehensive native title and heritage agreement in 2011, providing for ongoing engagement as well as financial and non-financial benefits to the PKKP for mining activities on their country.

    The mining activity conducted in May 2020 was undertaken in accordance with all necessary approvals. It was preceded by a ministerial consent under Section 18 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act. This was obtained in 2013 after detailed consultation with the PKKP people over a decade that included research investigations in 2008 under a Section 16 authorisation. Following the Section 18 consent extensive heritage preservation and salvage work was undertaken in 2014, all with PKKP involvement.

    With the approval of the PKKP, the preserved artefacts have been deposited at a Rio Tinto storage facility to ensure appropriate protection of the material and we are working with the PKKP on longer-term options. We have continued to work closely and collaboratively with the PKKP on a range of heritage matters, including operations in the Juukan area, and have modified our operations to avoid cultural and heritage impacts. From 2014, the PKKP and Rio Tinto continued dialogue on the Juukan region, including discussion on the findings from the specialist studies that were conducted on the excavated materials. This included a site visit to the Brockman 4 operations with PKKP people in 2019.

    We proceeded with our operations at Brockman 4 in reliance of our comprehensive agreement with the PKKP and having all necessary approvals and consents.

    We are sorry that the recently expressed concerns of the PKKP did not arise through the engagements that have taken place over many years under the agreement that governs our operations on their country. To support thorough engagement on these issues, we have a range of formal avenues in place, which go beyond legal requirements. These activities support ongoing dialogue and engagement to occur as part of these processes on cultural heritage.

    We will continue to work with the PKKP, Traditional Owner groups, government and industry on reform in this area.