Rio Tinto executive team undergoes sweeping restructure

Monica Gameng   |   June 21, 2016

Andrew Harding has been replaced as Rio Tinto’s Chief Executive of Iron Ore.  Mr Harding, widely recognised as the man who led Rio Tinto's fight against Andrew Forrest's push for an inquiry into falling iron ore prices, will leave Rio in a sweeping re-organisation under new chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques, who officially takes over on July 2.

The shuffle will occur as follows: 

  • Jean-Sébastien Jacques, Rio Tinto's deputy chief executive, will succeed Sam Walsh as Rio Tinto chief executive on 2 July 2016.
  • Mr Harding will be replaced by Chris Salisbury, who is currently acting chief executive of Rio Tinto's copper and coal group, and the former chief operating officer of the coal division.
  • Mr Salisbury will be replaced by Alan Davies, who moves from his existing responsibilities for diamond and minerals to run a sprawling group of interests spanning coal to uranium, salt, borates and titanium dioxide.
  • Under Arnold Soirat, Rio Tinto’s copper and diamond assets will be combined into just one unit. Mr Soirat is presently responsible for the organisation’s primary aluminium interests. The goal of combining the two groups of assets into just one unit is to help pool the miner’s underground expertise.

rio-tinto-jacques-harding.jpgJean-Sebastien Jacques (source: and Andrew Harding (source:

According to Mr Jacques, the goal of the restructuring is to place the organisation’s “assets at the heart of the business to drive improved performance”. He also said that he is aiming to build a company that’s stronger and is well positioned to deliver returns and promote growth.

“In the face of testing times for the industry, Rio is performing remarkably well. Our ambition is to deliver superior performance day in, day out to drive improved shareholder performance.” – Mr Jean-Sebastien Jacques

Mr Jacques’ comments arose while Rio Tinto’s global mining rival, BHP Billiton, warned that the present oversupply of minerals commodities can take at least a decade to work off. According to BHP Billiton, a rise in Indian steel production is expected and this will be able to help boost the purchase of raw materials like coking coal.

Due to the weak global demand for iron ore, a fresh approach is needed to continue taking out costs from the business and this has sparked speculations about Mr Harding’s departure. Mr Harding had been with the Rio Tinto for 25 years.

Aside from having a separate division for aluminium, Rio Tinto now has a ‘growth and innovation’ unit that is aimed at assisting with projects as the organisation is striving to move from exploration to production.

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Monica Gameng
As Felix's Marketing Assistant since 2015, Monica is responsible for researching and sharing new and progressing projects within the construction and mining sectors in Australia. It's no surprise that Monica has her finger on the pulse of Australian major projects given she has produced more than 1,000 posts. She truly is an industry expert.
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