Mining giant Rio Tinto is facing fresh criticism after it was revealed that the company hired lawyers three days prior to the destruction of ancient rock shelters in Juukan Gorge.

Documents released on Friday show the company hired lawyers in order to prepare for a potential injunction against its destruction of the 46,000-year-old sacred sites in May.

Minutes from a meeting on May 21, three days prior to the blasting, show Rio’s legal counsel advised the company a multinational corporate firm had been instructed and preparations were underway.

The Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility says the new details show there is a “yawning gap” between the company’s version of events and the picture emerging from the evidence.

The revelation has earned the company further condemnation from shareholder groups.

The Chief Executive of one of the resource sector’s major investors has questioned how seriously mining companies take their relationships with Traditional Owners.

A recent internal report by Rio Tinto highlighted profound systemic, operational, and governance failings leading to the site’s destruction, however it failed to conclude who was accountable.

Chief Executive of HESTA Super, Debby Blakey told Bumma Bippera Media that they are looking across their whole portfolio to be sure it doesn’t happen again.