Rio Tinto names Jakob Stausholm CEO after Aboriginal cave blast crisis

Mining giant Rio Tinto has named chief financial officer Jakob Stausholm as its next chief executive officer.

Mr Stausholm, who joined the miner in 2018, replaces outgoing CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques, who resigned in the wake of the company’s disastrous decision to blow up a 46,000-year-old Aboriginal heritage site at Western Australia’s Juukan Gorge earlier this year.

Danish executive Jakob Stausholm will be the next chief executive of Rio Tinto.
Danish executive Jakob Stausholm will be the next chief executive of Rio Tinto.

The decision to appoint the Danish-born, London-based Mr Stausholm as CEO defied analyst and shareholder expectations that Mr Jacques’ successor would most likely be from outside the company, and an Australian citizen.

Following the Juukan Gorge disaster, the dual-listed Anglo-Australian company’s board has been under heightened pressure from investors and politicians to forge a closer bond with Australia, the country that accounts for the majority of its earnings.


Prior to joining Rio Tinto, Mr Stausholm held senior roles with A.P. Moeller-Maersk, facility service provider ISS, Statoil and Royal Dutch Shell, where he worked for 19 years in roles spanning Europe, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific.

Rio chairman Simon Thompson said Mr Stausholm’s strategic and commercial expertise, strong values and a collaborative leadership style were “ideal qualities for our next chief executive”.

“Jakob has already made a significant contribution to the performance of the group in his role as chief financial officer,” he said. “He has a proven track record as a senior executive with deep industrial and resources experience spanning strategy development and technology, as well as financial and risk management.”

The departure of Mr Jacques, announced by the board in September, followed months of escalating pressure from Aboriginal groups, top shareholders and government leaders over Rio Tinto’s destruction of the Juukan Gorge site, where two culturally significant rock shelters had evidence of continual human occupation tracing back at least 46,000 years.

The board said at the time that Mr Jacques, 48, would stay on as CEO until the appointment of his successor or until March 31, whichever was earlier.

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