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Rio Tinto chairman Simon Thompson will step down from the position over the controversial demolition of a 46,000-year-old sacred indigenous site in Australia, according to media reports.

The company had received public backlash when it blew up ancient rock shelters at Juukan Gorge to extract iron ore worth $135mn in May 2020.

Thompson has informed the company’s board that he will not seek re-election in 2022. He said that he was ultimately accountable for the failings that led to the tragic event as the chairman of Rio Tinto.

The board informed that it has accepted Thompson’s decision and will search for a successor. Thompson has been the Chairman of Rio Tinto since 2018.

Rio Tinto’s Non-Executive Director Michael L’Estrange will also retire from the board after this year’s meetings. Both Thompson and L’Estrange were under pressure to resign from the board as the board’s investigation into the destruction found no single person accountable.

The caves were one of the earliest known locations inhabited by Australia’s indigenous people and had some of the oldest Aboriginal artifacts ever found in the country, as per media reports.

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