Shares fall as Rio appoints new chair

Job cuts and mine closures have caused a retreat in mining stocks, with shares dropping to a five week low yesterday.

Rio Tinto fell $3.56, or 8.8%, to $37.05 after it announced intended production cuts at Argyle diamond mine in Western Australia. Adding further fuel to the fire was the news that Chairman Paul Skinner will soon be replaced by the current deputy chairman of India’s Tata Steel Jim Leng.

Leng will officially replace Skinner after the company’s AGM on 20 April 2009.

Skinner announced his retirement plans to the company on Wednesday.

“After the termination of the BHP Billiton pre-conditional Offers for the Group, and the identification of a well-qualified successor, now is a good time for me to announce my decision to stand down at the AGMs this year,” Skinner said.

Rio Tinto’s senior independent director Andrew Gould said the company’s nominations committee had identified Jim Leng as the new chairman.

“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.”

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