Rio to halve London HQ workforce

Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto plans to almost halve the size of its London head office.

According to an internal memo seen by Reuters, Rio will cut more than 200 jobs as it tries to slash more than $US5 billion ($4.8 billion) in costs by the end of next year, SMH reports.

Falling commodity prices and a number of lacklustre projects has prompted newly appointed Rio CEO Sam Walsh to embark on a stringent cost cutting agenda.

Addressing his first annual meeting as CEO, Walsh told investors the company would be tightening its belt to ensure it got good value for money.

“We are targeting significant cash proceeds from divestments and are reviewing a number of potential non-core assets for divestment, in addition to those we've already announced such as Pacific Aluminium and Diamonds,” he said.

“This will ensure … that we invest only in projects that deliver returns well above our cost of capital.”

Along with selling off assets Walsh said Rio would be focused on reducing operating costs across all of its operations.

Rio has also been reviewing high-cost office locations including London since last year.

The internal announcement said the company aimed to reduce the number of London-based jobs to 262 from 479.

Reviews of the company’s African operations have also resulted in the need for fewer Johannesburg administrative employees, with another 38 jobs to be cut in South Africa.

"As you are aware, one of our priorities for 2013 is to significantly reduce costs across the business," Rio's emailed memo to employees said.

"Given the increasing volatility of our operating environment and challenging economic conditions, this is more necessary than ever."

Rio last year cut white collar staff in Australia, closing its Sydney office and reducing the size of its Melbourne contingency.

"Like others in the industry, Rio Tinto is facing the challenge of increasing costs and is taking action to tackle this," a Rio spokesman said on Monday.

"As a result there will be a reduction in the number of roles in London, so the company has begun a consultation process with staff."

Earlier this month Rio said that its cost-saving regime for 2013 was on target as a result of job cuts and improved productivity.

Last week Australian Mining reported the company cut another 40 jobs at its Mount Thorley Warkworth mine after a court last week overturned permission for the company to expand the mine.

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