Rio Tinto publishes independent report on cultural heritage management performance

March 20, 2023

An independent report based on a global audit of Rio Tinto’s Cultural Heritage Management compliance and performance identified areas in which the company is achieving leading cultural heritage practices there are other areas still in need of improvement.

Rio Tinto published the independent report on March 20. The report is one of a number of steps the company has taken to find better ways to manage and protect culturally important heritages site where it operates around the world. These report and other efforts are part of a pledge to overhaul its practices after it destroyed culturally significant rock shelters at Juukan Gorge in Western Australia for an iron ore mine in 2020.

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, U.S. and Mongolia.

In a statement, Rio Tinto said focus areas going forward will include:

• Embedding understanding and respect for heritage across our 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 our 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 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; Views and feedback from community partners; Follow-up interviews to address gaps; A presentation of the findings to asset leadership; Presentation of asset audit reports and presentation of the final independent report.

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

Stefani Eagle, ERM Consulting Director (Cultural Heritage), 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.”

The report is available here:



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