Cultural audit leaves room for improvement at Rio

20th March 2023

By: Esmarie Iannucci

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia


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PERTH ( – An independent audit into diversified miner Rio Tinto’s cultural heritage management compliance and performance has identified 81 non-conformances and 60 improvement opportunities in the miner’s global operations, and has made 144 recommendations to support alignment with global good practice.

Rio commissioned the global audit as part of 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.

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

In its report, ERM found that there was commonality in the findings, meaning that similar findings were made across multiple assets. Typically, the findings related to gaps in the design and implementation of an asset’s cultural heritage management system, which is the framework that guides the on-ground and day-to-day management of cultural heritage.

The audit also found subtle differences between geographies and business units, which not only reflected the local context such as the regulatory framework and stakeholder expectations, but also the type and function of the asset.

The audit noted that while a range of non-conformances and improvement opportunities were raised, good practices are also identified.

“We have been working to strengthen and improve our approach to cultural heritage and community relations,” Rio CEO for 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.”

Parker said that focus areas will continue to be embedding understanding and respect for heritage across Rio’s workforce to ensure lasting outcomes for Indigenous peoples and communities that hold rights and knowledge over heritage, and providing the company’s global assets with ready access to regional-specific and internal cultural heritage expertise.

The miner will also work to ensure its cultural heritage management plans are co-designed, embedded, understood and managed through a global heritage management maturity framework, and will evaluate the cultural values of water to ensure effective management alongside safety and production.

Furthermore, Rio will work towards embedding a sustained focus on engagement throughout the life of its operations to better protect and conserve cultural heritage.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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