Rio Tinto's energy chief executive is departing in a major restructure

Sam Walsh. Photo: Getty

Cost cutting at Rio Tinto has claimed a major scalp, that of energy chief executive Harry Kenyon-Slaney.

He’s leaving as part of a restructure which includes streamlining corporate functions and condensing operations into four core groups.

CEO Sam 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.”

Rio’s assets will be shrunk into four product groups: Aluminium, Copper and Coal, Diamonds and Minerals, and Iron Ore.

The new Copper and Coal product group will bring Rio Tinto’s coal operations alongside the existing Copper portfolio.

Copper chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques will lead the combined product group.

Uranium will be added to the Diamonds and Minerals product group under the leadership of product group chief executive Alan Davies.

Walsh said the changes are part of continuing business transformation to reduce costs, simplify and strengthen the company and deliver value for shareholders.

“Our coal and uranium assets remain a part of our world-class portfolio,” he said. “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.”

With commodity prices falling, the big miner has been cutting costs, increasing ore output, pulling back on capital spending and cutting debt.

This month Rio announced full year results, with underlying earnings better than market expectations at $9.3 billion.

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