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Mining giant replaces execs axed for blowing up ancient rock shelters

Rio Tinto Brockman 4 Iron Ore Expansion
Rio Tinto Brockman 4 Iron Ore Expansion

A multinational resources company has revealed who will fill a number of positions made vacant after two ancient Aboriginal sites were destroyed to make way for a metal mine expansion.

Rio Tinto recently confirmed managing director Pacific operations aluminium Kellie Parker will be promoted to new Australia CEO, chief commercial officer Simon Trott will become the next iron ore CEO, and copper and diamonds chief executive Arnaud Soirat the group chief operating officer.

Aluminium chief executive Alf Barrios will fill Trott’s former role of chief commercial officer, while Egon Zehnder partner James Martin will replace Vera Kirikova as chief people officer.

‘More resilient, even stronger’

Rio group CEO Jakob Stausholm believes the appointments will make the company more resilient, and an “even stronger” performer and employer.

“While Rio Tinto continues to deliver strong safety and operational performance, despite the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, there are improvements we can achieve across the business,” he said in a public statement.

The changes are also hoped to help mend community relations following the May 24 detonation of two ancient deep-time rock shelters, which contained artefacts claimed to be 46,000-years-old, for the Brockman 4 Iron Ore Expansion – 55km northwest of Tom Price.

Rebuilding ‘trust’

One of Parker’s first jobs will be to rebuild “trust” and strengthen external relationships across the nation.

“I want to reestablish Rio Tinto as a trusted partner for host communities, governments and other stakeholders,” Stausholm said.

Former CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques, iron ore chief executive Chris Salisbury and corporate relations group executive Simone Niven finished up at the end of 2020, following investor backlash about the Juukan Gorge explosion that allegedly destroyed grinding stones, a bone sharpened into a tool, braided hair and other artefacts inside the shelters.

Rio had already met the regulatory requirements back in 2013 and profusely apologised for any distress caused to the indigenous Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura People but superannuation funds continued to demand that heads roll.

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“I would like to welcome Kellie, Sinead and James to the executive team. They will bring a new perspective along with strong track records,” Stausholm said.

“I would also like to thank Vera for her contribution to Rio Tinto over a number of years.”

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