Wednesday 9 September 2020 2:49 pm

Future of Rio Tinto boss in doubt after Aboriginal cave destruction

The future of Rio Tinto chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques is under intense scrutiny after reports that the firm’s board will discuss his tenure at a meeting this week.

The FTSE 100 company is under pressure from investors to give executives additional penalties for the destruction of Aboriginal heritage sites in Australia.

Read more: Rio Tinto boss has bonus slashed by millions after mining giant destroys Aboriginal caves

According to Bloomberg, the board will discuss further punishments, including whether Jacques and some of his fellow executives should be removed from their roles.

In August, Jacques had his bonus reduced by £2.7m over the destruction of the cave system in Juukan Gorge near Pilbara in Western Australia.

However, on Friday night it was revealed that Rio Tinto had brought in lawyers to prepare for a potential junction against the mine expansion that led to the destruction.

Before the Open newsletter: Start your day with the City View podcast and key market data

The revelation caused uproar, with numerous investor groups weighing in to criticise the firm’s executives.

This morning, the Church of England, which has a small stake in the company, condemned the firm’s handling of the incident.

Adam Matthews, director of ethics and engagement on the Church of England’s pensions board, told the BBC that he had told the firm it was “clear investors don’t feel the measures the board has currently outlined are significant”.

Australia’s largest superannuation firm, Australia Super, and the UK-based Local Authority pension fund have both also hit out at Rio Tinto.

The destruction in May sparked public outrage and an Australian government inquiry that senior Rio leadership faced last month.

Read more: Rio Tinto touts ‘V-shaped’ China recovery as it beats profit expectations

At the time of the inquiry, Rio Tinto’s chairman Simon Thompson gave Jacques his backing, saying that he was the right man to lead the world’s second largest miner out of the crisis.

City A.M. has contacted Rio Tinto for comment.