The Juukan Gorge rock shelters were of “the highest archaeological significance in Australia”, experts said. Dating back more than 40,000 years, the caves in the western Pilbara region had yielded artefacts including ancient tools and 4,000-year-old plaited human hair.
Indeed, Michael Slack, an archaeologist, wrote in a 2018 report to Rio Tinto that the caves had “the amazing potential to radically change our understanding of the earliest human behaviour in Australia”.
Yet on Sunday, May 24, Rio Tinto detonated dozens of tonnes of explosives in holes that it had drilled beneath the shelters, largely destroying them to gain access to eight million tonnes of iron ore. Almost four months of sustained criticism that followed culminated yesterday in Jean-Sébastien Jacques losing his job as chief executive
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