Thursday 6 May 2021 11:43 am

Majority of Rio Tinto investors revolt over former chief's pay due to Juukan Gorge destruction

A majority of Rio Tinto investors today revolted over its former chief executive’s lucrative exit pay package at the miner’s AGM.

Jean-Sebastien Jacques quit as the FTSE 100 firm’s boss last year after the mining giant destroyed 46,000-year-old rock shelters at Juukan Gorge in Australia a year ago.

Despite having his bonus renumeration stripped away, Jacques still took home $13m after the incident, which led to public condemnation of the firm.

In addition, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, proxy advisers estimated he still held tens of millions of dollars’ worth of Rio shares upon his departure.

At today’s meeting more than 60 per cent of investors rejected the renumeration report, Rio Tinto revealed.

In a statement, the company’s board said: “The board acknowledges that the executive pay outcomes in relation to the tragic events at Juukan Gorge are sensitive and contentious issues.

“The board understands the voting outcome in relation to the 2020 Remuneration Report was a response to the extent of the malus adjustment applied to unvested LTIP awards of the former chief executive, chief executive iron ore and group executive corporate relations.”

Rio Tinto said that the vote was the “first strike” against the board.

Under Australian securities rules, if a company’s executive pay package is rejected two years in a row, the board could face a vote to be removed.