Rio Tinto’s new chief executive and managing director Jean-Sébastien Jacques.

By Elizabeth Fabri

RIO TINTO’s newly appointed chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques has unveiled changes to the organisation’s structure and his executive team.

On 2 July, Jean-Sébastien Jacques replaced former chief executive Sam Walsh, and reorganised the group to better align assets with the business strategy and optimise performance. “In the face of testing times for the industry, Rio Tinto is performing remarkably well,” Jean-Sébastien Jacques said. “Our strategy, commitment to balance sheet strength and focus on shareholder returns will not change; but we are strengthening our structure and delivery by placing our assets at the heart of the business to drive improved performance.”

The new structure comprised four product groups — Aluminium, Iron Ore, Energy & Minerals, and Diamonds — and a newly shaped Growth & Innovation Group, which would focus on technical support and future assets.

Mr Jacques said the new executive team was highly skilled and represented seven nationalities. “Each new team member has more than 20 years’ experience in the resources sector, which complements the deep expertise of the existing executive team,” he said. One of the most notable changes to the committee was the appointment of new Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury to replace Andrew Harding. Mr Salisbury had been acting chief executive of Rio Tinto’s Copper and Coal group since March and had worked with the company for more than 28 years, while Andrew had been Iron Ore chief executive since 2013.

In a statement in June, Mr Jacques expressed his gratitude for Mr Harding’s work over the years. “I want to thank Andrew for his dedication and commitment to Rio Tinto after almost 25 years with the business, including six years on the Executive Committee,” he said. “Andrew has held important roles in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. “During his long career with the company he has led our global Iron Ore and Copper businesses, delivering marked performance improvements.”

Rio Tinto had also amalgamated its copper and diamond businesses into a single product group led by Arnaud Soirat. Former Diamonds & Minerals chief executive Alan Davies’ portfolio was reshaped to incorporate uranium, salt, borates and titanium dioxide businesses and the Iron Ore Company of Canada. Stephen McIntosh was also promoted to Growth & Innovation Group executive from his former role as Technology & Innovation Group’s acting executive.