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Rio Tinto's new CEO pledges to 'restore trust' after destruction of sacred Indigenous site

December 17, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Rio Tinto has found a new chief after a crisis this year led to the ouster of its top executive.

Hong Kong (CNN Business)Rio Tinto (RIO) has found a new chief after a crisis this year led to the ouster of its top executive.

On Thursday, the mining giant named Chief Financial Officer Jakob Stausholm as CEO.

Stausholm will assume the role on January 1, the same day outgoing CEO Jean-Sébastien Jacques is slated to step down.

Jacques resigned under pressure from investors in September over the company's destruction of a 46,000-year-old sacred Indigenous site in Australia.

The decision to blow up the site had faced a seven-year battle by the local custodians of the land, the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people, to protect it.

Rio Tinto later apologized for the incident, with its chairman Simon Thompson admitting: "What happened at Juukan was wrong. "

The company also cut bonuses for Jacques and two other senior executives, totaling a combined £3. 8 million ($5 million).

Investor groups accused Rio Tinto of failing to take full responsibility for the demolition of the caves, which had held significant archeological value and deep cultural meaning for Aboriginal people.

Last week, an inquiry panel from the Joint Standing Committee of Northern Australia found that Rio Tinto should pay reparations to Indigenous Australians.

UBS analysts noted that the committee's report was not government policy, writing in a Wednesday research note that "unilateral action is unlikely. " They added, though, that Rio Tinto is "likely to pay compensation" over the incident.

"I am also acutely aware of the need to restore trust with Traditional Owners and our other stakeholders, which I view as a key priority for the company," the incoming CEO added, referring to the land's local custodians.

Rio's stock in London rose 1. 9% on Thursday following the news.

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