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Mining chief admits blowing up ancient site was ‘dark day’

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Mining giant Rio Tinto has delivered the biggest dividend in its history but its reputation remains dented after the destruction of 46,000-year-old rock shelters in Western Australia, its chief executive said.

Mining giant Rio Tinto has delivered the biggest dividend in its history but its reputation remains dented after the destruction of 46,000-year-old rock shelters in Western Australia, its chief executive said.

The world's leading iron ore delivered the biggest dividend in its history yesterday – $7.18 a share – following a rise in iron ore prices since last year.

But new chief executive Jakob Stausholm, giving the company's full-year result, said restoring public trust was vital after Rio Tinto's decision to blast sites at Juukan Gorge, in the Pilbara, last May.

READ MORE: China wants to break dependency on Australia for iron ore

Photo of the Juukan Gorge, some 60 kilometres north-west of Mount Tom Price in Western Australia

The explosion took place at ancient cave sites known to be culturally important and triggered the resignation of former CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques.

Mr Stausholm said he recently travelled to the Pilbara to meet local indigenous people, who remain shocked by the destruction.

He said he used the visit to "express my deep regret about the damage we caused".

And the destruction of the rock shelters was a "dark day" for Rio Tinto.

Rio Tinto's underlying profit beat forecasts to increase by 20 per cent to $16 billion.

The company's biggest customers for its iron ore are Chinese steel mills.

They combine the mineral with coal and in blast furnaces heated at more than 1000C to make liquid steel.

Mr Stausholm also said the mining giant would aim to reduce its massive carbon footprint across its global operations.

Part of Rio Tinto's plans to reduce emissions will be to partner with steel producers to develop technologies that can slash their carbon footprint by 30 per cent from 2030.

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Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/rio-tinto-pays-record-dividend-admits-destroying-aboriginal-heritage-site/f32593c2-3783-46b8-a7cc-ae2ba2325026

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