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Canadian Ambassador to China to be Rio Tinto’s Next Chairman

December 21, 2021

Rio Tinto Group


Canadian businessman and Ambassador to China Dominic Barton to replace Simon Thompson as its chairman in a board overhaul prompted by the company’s destruction of 46,000-year-old rock shelters at Western Australia’s Juukan Gorge.

Mr Barton is Canada’s outgoing ambassador to China and a former head of global consultancy group McKinsey & Co. He will join Rio’s board in April and be appointed to the role of chairman at its annual investor meeting on May 5, the Anglo-Australian miner announced on Monday.

Ambassador Dominic Barton

Mr Thompson’s departure from the role in 2022 follows Rio Tinto’s decision to blast through a culturally significant Aboriginal heritage site to make way for an expansion of an iron ore mine last year, which sparked global condemnation, triggered a federal parliamentary inquiry and plunged the company into crisis.

The Juukan Gorge disaster has already forced the departures of Rio’s former chief executive, Jean-Sebastien Jacques, two of his top deputies and high-profile director Michael L’Estrange.

Mr Barton, said he looked forward to working with Rio’s new chief executive, Jakob Stausholm.

“I look forward to working with Jakob and the board to implement a strategy that puts decarbonisation at the heart of the business and positions Rio Tinto to be a leader in addressing complex global problems, while building and sustaining trust with host communities,” he said.

A Ugandan-born Canadian, Dominic spent over 30 years at McKinsey & Company, including nine as the Global Managing Partner and six as Asia Chairman. Most recently, he has been Canada’s Ambassador to China since 2019. He brings a wealth of global business experience having advised clients in a range of industries, including banking, consumer goods, high tech and industrials, as well as a deep insight of geopolitics, corporate sustainability and governance.

Mr Barton’s previous industry experience includes serving as chairman of Canadian miner Teck Resources. His connections to China, by far the biggest market for Australian shipments of the steel-making material iron ore, were likely to have been a significant factor in Rio Tinto’s selection.

The search for the new Chair was jointly led by Sam Laidlaw, senior independent director of Rio Tinto plc, and Simon McKeon, senior independent director of Rio Tinto Limited. Sam Laidlaw said, “The Board is delighted to have appointed such an outstanding individual and I know Dominic will lead the Rio Tinto Board with distinction. He has an impressive track-record, with extensive and broad business and diplomatic knowledge and a deep understanding of the link between business, governments and society. On behalf of the Board, I welcome him to Rio Tinto.”

Dampier Salt Limited (DSL), located in Western Australia

Rio Tinto Group is an Anglo-Australian multinational and the world’s second-largest metals and mining corporation, behind BHP, producing iron ore, copper, diamonds, gold and uranium. The company was founded in 1873, when a multinational consortium of investors purchased a mine complex on the Rio Tinto, in Huelva, Spain, from the Spanish government. Since then, the company has grown through a long series of mergers and acquisitions to place itself among the world leaders in the production of many commodities, including aluminium, iron ore, copper, uranium and diamonds. Although primarily focused on extraction of minerals, Rio Tinto also has significant operations in refining, particularly for refining bauxite and iron ore. Rio Tinto has joint head offices in London, UK and Melbourne, Australia.

Rio Tinto is a dual-listed company traded on both the London Stock Exchange, where it is a component of the FTSE 100 Index, and the Australian Securities Exchange, where it is a component of the S&P/ASX 200 index. Additionally, American Depositary Shares of Rio Tinto’s British branch are traded on the New York Stock Exchange, giving it listings on a total of three major stock exchanges. In the 2020 Forbes Global 2000, Rio Tinto was ranked as the 114th-largest public company in the world.

For additional information, please visit the Company’s website at www.riotinto.com or contact Investor Relations, UK, Menno Sanderse at M:+44 7825 195 178

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James Hyland, MiningIR