Rio Tinto reveals plans to ‘simplify’ company

Rio Tinto plans to condense its assets into four product groups as part of a major restructure in an effort to rein in costs.

The corporate restructure will see its various assets now operate under: Aluminium, Copper and Coal, Diamonds and Minerals, and Iron Ore.

As part of the changes, Rio’s coal and copper operations will be combined, while uranium will be added to the Diamonds and Minerals group.

One of the consequences of the restructuring is the exit of Energy chief executive Harry Kenyon-Slaney will leave the business.

The Aluminium and Iron Ore product groups remain unchanged.

In announcing the changes, Rio said a number of key corporate functions will also be “reshaped” to further reduce costs and improve effectiveness.

Rio Tinto CEO Sam Walsh said the restructure is part of a business transformation aimed at reducing costs and simplifying the company.

“Our coal and uranium assets remain a part of our world-class portfolio. We will work hard to ensure there is a smooth transition for our colleagues in the Energy product group and continue to maximise efficiencies in our coal and uranium operations,” Walsh said.

“I would like to thank Harry for the important contribution he has made during almost 25 years with the Group, including as a colleague on the Executive Committee for the past five years. Harry has my best wishes for the future and my full appreciation for the significant role he has played in his time at Rio Tinto.”

The move comes after an Australian Mining exclusive last week which flagged the company was set to engage a heavy cost cutting campaign, involving renegotiation of service contracts, reduction of scheduled maintenance task times, and changes to staff pay .

An internal document leaked to Australian Mining  showed Rio Tinto iron ore chief executive Andrew Harding had outlined a series of cost cutting requirements, including an immediate hiring freeze, which he said must be performed to maintain business success.

The move by Rio to simplify its business comes after BHP Billiton undertook a similar simplification process last year.

BHP chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said simplifying the company’s product portfolio was a “priority” before announcing that a portfolio focused on major iron ore, copper, coal and petroleum assets would be part of its four pillar company.

This has led to the proposed demerger of BHP’s non-core assets of aluminium, manganese, nickel and silver into company South32.

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