Rio Tinto shareholders reject executive pay report in caves blast protest

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MELBOURNE (Reuters) -A majority of Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO)’s shareholders rejected the global miner’s executive pay packages on Thursday, in a backlash over its destruction last year of ancient rock shelters in Western Australia.

Rio Tinto blasted 46,000-year-old rock shelters at Juukan Gorge last May to expand an iron ore mine, sparking condemnation from investors, politicians and the wider community.

Following the company’s Australian annual meeting, Rio Tinto said more than 60% of votes cast by investors in the Anglo-Australian dual-listed company were against its remuneration report.

“This constitutes a ‘first strike’,” the company said.

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

“The Board acknowledges that the executive pay outcomes in relation to the tragic events at Juukan Gorge are sensitive and contentious issues,” it said in a statement with the vote results.

Widespread anger at the destruction of the caves cost the jobs of its chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques and two other senior leaders and led Chairman Simon Thompson to flag he would step down in 2022.

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