Western Australia’s former Aboriginal Affairs minister and treasurer Ben Wyatt has been appointed to Rio Tinto’s board as their first Aboriginal director.

The appointment comes as Rio continues its efforts to repair relations with Juukan Gorge traditional owners the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people.

Company chairman Simon Thompson said they are delighted to welcome Ben to the Board:

“With family links to the Pilbara and an impressive track record in public life, Ben’s knowledge of public policy, finance, international trade and Indigenous affairs will significantly add to the depth of knowledge on the Board at a time when we are seeking to strengthen relationships with key stakeholders in Australia and around the world.”

The Yamatji man said he had been deeply saddened and disappointed by the destruction of the Juukan Gorge by the company.

“But I am convinced that Rio Tinto is committed to changing its approach to cultural heritage issues and restoring its reputation, particularly in Australia and Western Australia,” he said.

“I am looking forward to working with the Board in building on the momentum for change generated by the new leadership team.”

Ben Wyatt will join the Rio Tinto board as a non-executive director on 1 September 2021.