Rio Tinto looks for lessons from Juukan Gorge blasting

The Pilbara landscape Image: Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto has launched a board-led review of its heritage management processes to improve internal processes following the events at the Juukan Gorge.

Independent director Michael L’Estrange will conduct the review, seeking input from Rio Tinto employees and the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) First Nation’s People.

The review will examine the mining giant’s relationship and communications with the PKKP and other internal heritage standards, procedures, reporting and governance.

Rio Tinto had stated it would continue to support the Western Australian Government’s planned reform of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972.

Rio Tinto chairman Simon Thompson apologised to the PKKP people on behalf of the company board and thanked L’Estrange for agreeing to conduct the review.

“On behalf of the Rio Tinto board, I would like to apologise to the PKKP people,” Thompson said.

“The decision to conduct a board-led review of the events at Juukan Gorge reflects our determination to learn lessons from what happened and to make any necessary improvements to our heritage processes and governance.”

Rio Tinto chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques furthered this apology, stating that it’s an “immediate priority” to regain the trust of the PKKP people and other Traditional Owners.

“Our immediate priority is to regain the trust of Traditional Owners, starting with the PKKP people,” Jacques said.

“We very much look forward to incorporating the findings of the board-led review into our heritage processes and approach.”

The final report with findings from the review, which will be made public, is targeted for a completion in October.

Rio Tinto detonated explosives at the sacred Juukan Gorge site last month, having received ministerial consent for the blast in 2013, and devastating the PKKP people.

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