Rio Tinto has appointed former investment banker Simon Thompson to be its new chairman starting March 2018.
Serving as a non-executive director in the company’s board since 2014, Thompson will be replacing 63-year-old Jan du Plessis.
“Mr Thompson has over 20 years’ experience working across five continents in the mining and metals industry,” the mining company said in a statement. Thompson has also chaired private equity firm 3i Group and British exploration company Tullow Oil.
Du Plessis also welcomed the changeover. “I am really pleased to be succeeded by Simon, especially given how closely we have worked together since he joined the board some three years ago,” said du Plessis. “I am handing over the baton at a time when the business is in great shape and Rio Tinto has the strongest balance sheet in the sector.”
Thompson said: “I look forward to leading the board as we work with [chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques] and his team to ensure that Rio Tinto continues to deliver superior returns for its shareholders by maintaining its capital discipline and ‘value-over-volume’ approach.”
Upon taking over the position, Thompson is expected to deal with increased scrutiny surrounding issues like alleged coverup of losses in Mozambique in 2011 and corruption in the Republic of Guinea.