Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto is adopting recommendations from an independent report – based on a global audit of Rio Tinto’s Cultural Heritage Management compliance and performance – in order to find better ways to manage and protect heritage. 

The audit identified areas where Rio Tinto is achieving leading cultural heritage practices, while also identifying other practices where the company needs to improve its performance.

The report was produced by ERM, a global sustainability consultancy, following an audit of 37 Rio Tinto assets. The audit was completed throughout 2021 and 2022 across 20 assets in Australia and 17 assets in other countries where Rio Tinto operates including Canada, South Africa, the US and Mongolia.

ERM followed a multi-step approach, which included a desktop review of documentation provided as evidence by Rio Tinto, a series of interviews with employees and leaders with a focus on roles in managing cultural heritage, collecting views and feedback from community partners, follow-up interviews to address gaps, a presentation of the findings to asset leadership, the asset audit reports and the final independent report.

The commissioning of an independent audit was a commitment made in response to the findings from the Rio Tinto Board Review of Cultural Heritage Management which identified priorities for change following the destruction of the rock shelters at Juukan Gorge in May 2020.

Rio Tinto Australia Chief Executive, Kellie Parker, said, “We have been working to strengthen and improve our approach to cultural heritage and community relations.

“Our immediate focus was in Australia following Juukan Gorge before steadily expanding across our global operations.

“The report highlights some good progress, in particular in Australia, where we started. We know we have more work to do and the report gives us areas for further improvement across our global operations, and we will adopt all of its recommendations.

“I want to thank everyone who contributed to this important process, in particular our global community partners who our dedicated teams engage with daily to ensure heritage is always managed, protected and celebrated.”

Going forward Rio Tinto’s focus areas will continue to be:

  • Embedding understanding and respect for heritage across its workforce to ensure lasting outcomes for Indigenous peoples and communities that hold rights and knowledge over heritage
  • Providing our global assets with ready access to regional-specific and internal cultural heritage expertise
  • Ensuring its cultural heritage management plans are co-designed, embedded, understood and managed through a global heritage management maturity framework
  • Elevating the cultural values of water to ensure effective management alongside safety and production
  • Embedding a sustained focus on engagement throughout the life of our operations to better protect and conserve cultural heritage

ERM Consulting Director (Cultural Heritage), Stefani Eagle, said, “While examples of good cultural heritage practice were found, there are further improvements that are required to meet their internal standards and ensure all assets have appropriate foundations, underpinned by the principles of co-design.”

View the report


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