Rio Tinto Names Simon Trott as Iron Ore Chief Executive -- Update
By Rhiannon Hoyle
SYDNEY--Rio Tinto PLC elevated an executive experienced in
negotiating with Chinese buyers to run its iron-ore business at a
time of heightened tensions between Canberra and Beijing.
In a shuffle of Rio Tinto's executive team under new CEO Jakob
Stausholm, the company named Simon Trott as Iron Ore Chief
Executive to oversee one of the biggest iron-ore export businesses
globally. Mr. Trott is currently chief commercial officer.
He takes the helm of the business, which records wide margins on
its iron-ore sales and accounts for the bulk of Rio Tinto's
earnings, amid a deep trade dispute between Australia, where Rio
Tinto produces the bulk of its iron ore, and China, its No. 1
While Australian iron-ore shipments to China haven't been
affected by the dispute, Beijing has placed restrictions or tariffs
on a range of other Australian commodities including barley, wine
Australia drew China's anger when it sought support from
European leaders to investigate whether Beijing's early response to
the coronavirus contributed to the pandemic. Many Australian
lawmakers and economists see the tariffs as retaliation by China
for that diplomatic push.
Mr. Trott has been the miner's chief commercial officer since
January 2018 which has included overseeing the selling and
marketing of Rio Tinto's commodities to Chinese buyers.
He'll also assume responsibility for the iron-ore unit at a time
when prices of the commodity are near a nine-year high because of
strong Chinese demand. Iron ore, used to make steel, is one of the
world's most-traded commodities and was among the best performing
assets of 2020.
The miner earlier this month reported a 1% lift in annual
shipments of iron ore from its Australian mining hub, but said it
continues to face uncertainty resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic
and a review of heritage laws in Western Australia state.
Mr. Trott's appointment was part of a reshuffle announced
Thursday as the world's second biggest miner by market value seeks
to repair its reputation with investors, lawmakers and indigenous
groups after it last year destroyed two ancient rock shelters in
remote northwest Australia.
Mr. Stausholm became CEO this month after predecessor
Jean-Sébastien Jacques was ousted amid the fallout from the
destruction of the Juukan Gorge caves on May 24.
He also appointed Copper and Diamonds Chief Executive Arnaud
Soirat to be group chief operating officer and Kellie Parker, now
managing director of Pacific aluminum operations, to be Chief
Executive Australia, the company said.
"Now the work starts for ExCo, with a full agenda ahead of us
and a determination to become a strong team," Mr. Stausholm said,
referring to Rio's executive committee. "I am confident that
together we can unleash Rio Tinto's full potential."
Ms. Parker will be charged with rebuilding trust and
strengthening external relationships across Australia, Rio Tinto
Mr. Stausholm has said repairing Rio Tinto's relationship with
indigenous groups and other stakeholders is a key priority for the
company. The shelters that Rio Tinto destroyed contained a trove of
artifacts that indicated they had been occupied by humans more than
46,000 years ago.
A successor to Mr. Stausholm as chief financial officer has yet
to be appointed. Peter Cunningham remains interim chief financial
officer, Rio Tinto said.
Write to Rhiannon Hoyle at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 27, 2021 19:12 ET (00:12 GMT)
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