Sam Walsh is out at Rio Tinto

Sam Walsh. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Rio Tinto’s Sam Walsh will retire as CEO on July 1.

He will be replaced by Copper & Coal chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques, aged 44.

Jean-Sébastien Jacques said: “Rio Tinto is a world-class company with some of the best tier one assets and people in the industry. It is an honour and a great privilege to be given the opportunity to lead the company as we continue to develop the business and pursue the delivery of value for shareholders.”

Sam Walsh said: “I have been seriously fortunate to lead one of the world’s best companies. After 25 great and enjoyable years with Rio Tinto, now is the right time to pass the reins on to Jean-Sébastien.”

Jacques takes over as Rio Tinto cuts costs, sheds jobs and shrinks capital expenditure in an attempt to deal with falling commodity prices which have been crushing profitability in the mining sector.

Last month Walsh unveiled annual results showing underlying earnings cut almost in half to $US4.54 billion and a net loss of $US866 million.

Rio Tinto shares closed today at $43.73, down from a 12 month high of $60.50.

Before joining Rio Tinto in 2011, Jacques worked for more than 15 years across Europe, Southeast Asia, India and the US in a wide range of operational and functional positions in the aluminium, bauxite and steel industries.

He served as group strategy director for Tata Steel Group from 2007 to 2011.

Jean-Sébastien Jacques. Image: Supplied.

Rio Tinto chairman Jan du Plessis said: “Jean-Sébastien is a very experienced executive with a demonstrated track record and brings a unique blend of strategic and operational expertise. He has run complex operations and projects across five commodities and five continents. J-S is a highly-regarded leader who shares Rio Tinto’s strong values and has embraced its culture.”

Jacques will get a salary of £1,080,000 ($A2.02 million) and long and short term incentives, including an annual bonus of 120% of his base.

Walsh will depart with $A4.8 million in severance pay, including outstanding annual leave and long service. On top of that there will be short term incentives and full long term incentive payments

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