Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh will step down in July, with Copper and Coal chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques taking his place.
Mr Walsh, who has been in the job for three-and-a-half years, will also be retiring as director of the Rio Tinto board after seven years.
“Jean-Sébastien is a very experienced executive with a demonstrated track record and brings a unique blend of strategic and operational expertise. He has run complex operations and projects across five commodities and five continents. J-S is a highly-regarded leader who shares Rio Tinto’s strong values and has embraced its culture,” Rio Tinto chairman Jan de Plessis said.
“Today’s announcement is the culmination of a comprehensive and deliberate executive succession process. The board has decided that J-S is the right person to lead Rio Tinto in an increasingly complex world filled with both challenges and opportunities for our industry.”
“The board appointed Sam as chief executive at a challenging time for our company and I am very grateful for his tremendous leadership during the past three years. Against the backdrop of a volatile economic environment, Sam and his team have transformed the business, removing more than $6 billion of costs, strengthening the balance sheet and returning more than $13 billion to shareholders. Sam leaves Rio Tinto as a much stronger company, with a bright future.”
Mr Walsh said he was “seriously fortunate” to lead the company.
“After 25 great and enjoyable years with Rio Tinto, now is the right time to pass the reins on to Jean-Sébastien. In his time at Rio Tinto, J-S has proven to be a standout performer as a leader in our business,” he said.
“I am very proud to have played my part, together with all of our employees around the world, in returning Rio Tinto to a position of industry leadership and strength. I have always wanted to make a difference and I believe we have achieved that. I look forward to working with J-S, the board and executive team during the transition.”
Mr Jacques will join the board and become deputy chief executive with “immediate effect” to ensure a smooth transition.