(Bloomberg) -- The chairman of Energy Resources of Australia Ltd. has resigned following pressure from majority owner Rio Tinto Plc over a proposal to mine uranium in northern Australia against the wishes of an Indigenous community.
Peter Mansell will resign immediately as ERA’s chair after the company secured a A$100 million ($65 million) loan from Rio to pay for rehabilitation of the closed Ranger mine in the Northern Territory, the company said on Thursday.
Rio called for Mansell to resign on Monday after ERA’s board published a report that considered reopening the mine, which sits on the edge of the Kakadu National Park. Mining is opposed by the local Mirrar People.
Mansell’s resignation was welcomed in a separate statement by Rio. The mining giant called for a new board to “urgently develop a workable plan to fund the increased rehabilitation costs” in a way that was “consistent with the Mirarr People’s wishes.”
ERA said in February that closing the site would cost as much as A$2.2 billion ($1.4 billion), above an earlier estimate of A$973 million. On Thursday, it said the loan would give it “additional time to negotiate and implement a future funding solution” to rehabilitate the mine.
Mansell had said he would leave the company once the new funding was secured, and followed through on that promise Thursday.
It comes as Rio, which owns 86% of ERA, attempts to restore its image following the decision in 2020 to blow up ancient Indigenous rock shelters in Juukan Gorge in Western Australia, which led to the resignation of the chief executive officer and other members of senior management.
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