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Activists happy Rio Tinto bosses quit following company's desecration of 46,000-year-old Aboriginal site

Survival International warns the destruction of indigenous lands is ‘pretty much the business model’ for companies like Rio Tinto

ACTIVISTS in Australia welcomed the removal of a global mining corporation's CEO alongside two other bosses today after the company blew up a sacred Aboriginal site.

During a mining operation in May the British-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto obliterated caves at the Juukan Gorge containing 46,000-year-old rock shelters sacred to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura peoples .

CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques, head of corporate relations Simone Niven and head of iron ore Chris Salisbury stepped down in disgrace yesterday, four months after the act of cultural vandalism. 

Indigenous-rights organisation Survival International said it was right for the bosses to quit, but said nothing could make up for such a wanton act of desecration.

"Rio Tinto and its like have been destroying indigenous lands and sacred sites for decades," the organisation said on Twitter. "It's pretty much their business model."

In Sydney, Human Rights Law Centre legal director Keren Adams said that while the bosses' removal was an important first step it must not be the last.

“At last we are seeing some proper accountability at the top for Rio Tinto's destruction of Juukan Gorge," Ms Adams said.

"The company’s initial response of docking executives’ bonuses was patently inadequate given the significance of the site.

“But this is only the first step. The company must now follow this action up with proper reparations to the traditional owners and start walking the talk on human rights and cultural heritage protection.”

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