The company said Jacques would leave after choosing his successor or at the end of next March, whichever date comes first.
Two other executives are also leaving: Chris Salisbury, head of the iron ore business, and Simon Niven, executive of the corporate relations group. Salisbury resigns immediately and leaves the company at the end of the year. Niven will also leave at the end of December.
Rio Tinto stock fell 1% on Friday in Sydney.
“What happened at Jukan is wrong,” Rio Tinto chairman Simon Thompson said in a statement, referring to the destruction of two rock shelters in Western Australia, which contain artifacts representing tens of thousands of years of continuous human occupation.
“We are determined to ensure that the destruction of a heritage site of such extraordinary archaeological and cultural significance is not repeated during the Rio Tinto operation,” Thompson said.
All three officers receive some pay, including long-term incentive rewards as part of their contract terms. They have already been fined $ 8 3.8 million (approximately $ 5 million) in cut bonuses.
In a report published last month, the company said it had failed to meet certain standards of “responsible management and protection of cultural heritage”. But it did not fire any executives – criticism came from groups of investors who accused the company of failing to take full responsibility for the demolition of the caves. These caves have important archaeological value and deep cultural meaning to the aboriginal people.
In a statement on Friday, Rio Tinto acknowledged that “significant shareholders are concerned about executive accountability for identified failures.”
Rio Tinto’s decision has been welcomed by some bar associations in Australia.
“This is the first step in a long way to restore Rio Tinto’s good practice and reputation in its relations with its indigenous people,” said James Fitzgerald, head of legal advice and strategies at the Australian Center for Corporate Responsibility.
“The damage is irreparable,” he added. “We need to hear from [Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura] People whether they are satisfied with the compensation provided by Rio Tinto. “
The National Native Title Council, an organization representing the rights and interests of indigenous custodial groups, also welcomed the departures.