MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The chief executive of the Aboriginal group whose ancient rock shelters Rio Tinto Ltd detonated for an iron ore mine last year is stepping down from the organisation, the group said on Tuesday.
Carol Meredith will leave the role in September to spend more time with family overseas and the search for a new chief executive is underway, the PKKP Aboriginal Corporation, which administers the lands of the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people, said in a statement.
Rio destroyed the rock shelters in Western Australia that showed some of the earliest evidence of Ice Age human habitation dating back 46,000 years, which ultimately cost the chief executive and a suite of others their jobs.
It has pushed firmly into the limelight heritage management practices by Australian states and companies of the world's oldest continuous culture, with a national inquiry underway and due to report findings towards the end of this year.
Meredith said that dealing with the devastation at Juukan Gorge and its aftermath had been extremely challenging and she hoped to finalise improved practices with the miner before she left.
“In the coming weeks I will be working closely with the PKKP Board and our support team as we seek to finalise a co-management of mining model with Rio Tinto," she said in a statement.
"This is a critical and far-reaching step as co-management of mining represents a true partnership which will recognise and support the rights of traditional owners in relation to mining on their lands."
(Reporting by Melanie Burton, editing by Louise Heavens)