By David Winning
SYDNEY--Rio Tinto PLC said it will review how its iron-ore division tackles issues related to the heritage of indigenous people, after blasting ancient rock shelters during an expansion of its operations in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
On Friday, Rio Tinto said the board-led review would focus on the destruction of the 46,000-year-old caves at Juukan Gorge and appraise its internal heritage standards. It aims to publish a final report in October, and would seek input from employees and indigenous group.
Rio Tinto is facing mounting pressure over the destruction of the caves that are sacred to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people.
On June 11, lawmakers in Western Australia state said they would investigate the destruction of the caves, including decisions made by Rio Tinto's management and the extent to which it consulted with indigenous people beforehand. The inquiry's terms of reference also takes in how approvals for mining activities are provided under the nearly 50-year-old Aboriginal Heritage Act.
Rio Tinto has apologised to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people and said it would fully cooperate with the inquiry in Western Australia.
"The decision to conduct a board-led review of 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 Chairman Simon Thompson said on Friday.
Write to David Winning at email@example.com