Rio’s incoming chairman resigns

Rio Tinto’s non-executive director and incoming Chairman Jim Leng has resigned from the company’s boards effective immediately.

Last month, Leng was elected to replace the miner’s current chairman Paul Skinner.

Rio Tinto’s senior independent director Andrew Gould told MINING DAILY in January that the company’s nominations committee had identified Jim Leng as the new chairman after Skinner announced his resignation on January 14.

“As indicated last October, the Rio Tinto Boards, have undertaken a thorough process to identify a successor to Paul Skinner,” Gould said.

“Jim Leng brings to Rio Tinto extensive industrial company experience and is a seasoned Board room operator. He is ably qualified to lead Rio Tinto into the next phase of its development.”

In a Statement released to the Australian stock exchange earlier today, London-based Rio said Paul Skinner had agreed to remain in the role until mid-2009. No reason for Leng’s departure was given.

Rio Tinto, struggling under $38.9 billion of debt after acquiring Alcan Inc. in 2007, is seeking to complete $10 billion in asset sales this year to repay loans. Leng, 61, was the deputy chairman of Tata Steel Ltd. and chairman of the Indian company’s European unit.

Rio Tinto spokesperson Amanda Buckley told MINING DAILY that the company was unable to comment on the matter.

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