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Rio Tinto Merges Diamond and Copper Units

Jun 22, 2016 4:03 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... Rio Tinto will combine its diamonds and copper divisions to form one product group in search for greater efficiencies within a new organization structure.

The move to better align the group’s assets with its business strategy via a corporate reshuffling comes under Rio Tinto’s new chief executive officer Jean-Sébastien Jacques (pictured, right), who will succeed Sam Walsh on July 2.

Arnaud Soirat, currently the head of the company’s aluminum primary metal division (below), will be the London-based CEO of the merged copper and diamonds unit and join Rio Tinto’s executive committee.

The decision to join the divisions will combine Rio Tinto’s two marketing-led businesses into a single product group and help the company maximize its technical underground mining expertise, it said.

Alan Davies, currently CEO of diamonds and minerals, will become head of energy and minerals.

The changes, effective July 2, come as Rio Tinto restructures itself into four different product groups: aluminum; copper and diamonds; energy and minerals; and iron ore. In addition, there will be a newly shaped growth and innovation group focusing on future assets and technical support.

The company also named a new executive committee that will have ten members, each with more than 20 years’ experience in the resources sector.

Our strategy, commitment to balance-sheet strength and focus on shareholder returns will not change,” Jacques said. “But we are strengthening our structure and delivery by placing our assets at the heart of the business to drive improved performance.”

Rio Tinto’s streamlining comes close on the heels of a reorganization of the diamonds and minerals groups that saw Simon Trott appointed managing director of diamonds, salt and uranium. Jean-Marc Lieberherr – who previously led just the diamonds division – exited to head up the Diamond Producers Association.

Rio Tinto plans to increase diamond production in 2016 to 21 million of carats, with output from its Diavik mine in Canada surging 26 percent in the first quarter. Diamond sales slumped 23 percent in 2015 on lower rough prices, the company said.

Rio Tinto’s decision to rejig follows a similar move by Anglo American in the fourth quarter of 2015 when it streamlined the global mining group into three core businesses, of which diamonds was one.

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Tags: Arnaud Soirat, Jean-Sébastien Jacques, mining, Rapaport News, Rio Tinto, Rio Tinto Diamonds
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