The president of Chinese aluminium giant Chinalco has stepped down before the expected completion of a multi-billion dollar deal with Rio Tinto.
Xiao Yaqing’s resignation comes the day after Rio Tinto’s chairman designate Jim Leng unexpectedly resigned.
Industry speculation has suggested that Leng resigned amid disagreements over the way Rio proposes to reduce its US$38.9 billion in debt.
It is believed Leng was opposed to selling key assets to the state-owned Chinalco, which already holds a 9% stake in the miner.
Rio Tinto, which plans to reduce debt by US$10 billion by the end of the year, is due to release its 2008 results this week.