LONDON – The board of directors of global miner Rio Tinto needs more mining and renewable energy experience and a more diverse geographical background, its chairman Dominic Barton said on Friday.
“I think there’s a lot of changes that need to occur. On the board we need the mining experience,” Barton said in a pre-recorded interview at the FT Mining Summit in London.
“I think that capabilities on the renewable energy side (are) going to be quite important to have,” he added.
The seven independent directors on the board of the mining giant have mostly experience in finance, capital markets, law and oil and gas. They are all either British or Australian.
“We’re operating in 35 countries and we are an Australian, British kind of board, but we work a lot in Africa, we do a lot in China…we’re doing a lot in Mongolia,” he said.
“We have to think about our diversity on that front or our capability. So those are some of the areas that we need to focus on.”
Barton, a former Canadian diplomat, took up the role of chairman in May as part of a management overhaul caused by a public and political backlash over Rio Tinto’s destruction of 46 000-year-old sacred Indigenous rock shelters in Australia’s Juukan Gorge to expand an iron ore mine.
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Operationally, it has had some setbacks but also wins. The Serbian government revoked licences for its Jadar lithium project in January after massive protests sparked by environmental concerns over the planned mine, but Rio is in the process of taking Canada-listed Turquoise Hill private, which will give it direct ownership of a giant copper mine in Mongolia