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70% pay rise for Rio Tinto boss threatens revolt

Rio Tinto facing shareholder rebellion after raising its chief executive’s pay by 70%

Rio Tinto is facing a shareholder rebellion next week after raising its chief executive’s pay by 70 per cent. 

Jakob Stausholm took home £4.8 million in 2022, up from £2.8 million the year before, after the mining giant made record profits on the back of soaring commodity prices.

But analysts at the proxy advisory group Pirc have urged investors to vote against the FTSE 100 group’s pay scheme. It has also recommended a vote against the re-election of senior independent director Sam Laidlaw, former chief executive of Centrica, who chairs Rio Tinto’s pay committee.

Opposition: Rio Tinto plans to build a mine on a sacred site in Arizona

The advisory group, meanwhile, has told shareholders to abstain from voting for sustainability committee head Megan Clark, who is up for re-election, as questions remain over plans for the miner to build a huge copper mine in Arizona on sacred Apache land.

Rio Tinto plans to do this through a company it jointly owns with BHP, called Resolution Copper.

A US congressman, Raul Grijalva, recently introduced a bill aimed at protecting the Oak Flat site, which would stop Resolution setting up the mine.

Any rebellion over pay is unlikely to be on the scale of the shareholder revolt in 2021, when more than 60 per cent of investors voted against plans to hand ousted former boss Jean Sebastien-Jacques a £7.2 million bonus.

He was forced to leave after the company blew up two 46,000-year-old Aboriginal sacred sites in Western Australia to expand an iron ore mine.

This triggered worldwide outrage and an Australian parliamentary inquiry, as well as a boardroom clearout.

Campaigners have questioned why Rio has not ditched plans to build the Resolution Copper mine, which would harm another sacred site, when bosses have pledged never again to destroy native heritage.