Leaked tape reveals Rio Tinto does not regret destroying 46,000-year-old Aboriginal rock shelter to expand mine

Iron ore boss reportedly told a staff meeting that the company was apologising for the distress caused, not the destruction

This cave in the Juukan Gorge, dubbed Juukan 2, was destroyed in a mining blast by Rio Tinto. Photograph: The Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura Aboriginal Corporation.

Rio Tinto has repeated its apology to traditional owners for the destruction of a rock shelter that had been occupied for more than 46,000 years, after its iron ore chief executive, Chris Salisbury, reportedly told a staff meeting that the apology was for any distress caused, not an admission the company had done wrong.

According to the Australian Financial Review, which says it heard a recording of a Rio Tinto staff meeting held last Wednesday, Salisbury described the events leading up to the detonation of the site, then said: “That’s why we haven’t apologised for the event itself, per se, but apologised for the distress the event caused.”

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