Rio Tinto CFO steps down, major shakeup follows

Rio Tinto's long-standing Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Guy Elliott, will retire at the end of 2013, announced the miner on Thursday, along with a few other senior management changes.

Elliot has worked for the world’s number two miner for 32 years, which includes ten as a member of the board. The announcement of his departure comes only six months after Elliot turned down a bonus over poor investments made on his watch.

Some experts, including BusinessDay columnist Malcolm Maiden, have anticipated that heads would eventually roll over the ill-fated $38 billion investment in Alcan in 2007.

None of that was in Thursday’s statement. Instead, Chairman Jan du Plessis paid tribute to Elliot.

"I would like to thank him on behalf of the board for his invaluable contribution, particularly in recent years as he helped steer the group through the global financial crisis and back to a position of financial strength," said du Plessis in the news release.

With Elliott's planned exit, Rio Tinto Energy's chief executive, Doug Ritchie, will move to London next year to take on the role of head of executive strategy. Harry Kenyon-Slaney, currently chief executive of diamonds and minerals, will replace him in Brisbane as chief executive of the energy division.

The other change involves Alan Davies, the president of the international iron ore operations, who will take on the role of chief executive of diamonds and minerals from Sept. 1, the company said.

Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) is not only restructuring its management. Recently it hinted at its intention of leaving several aluminum related businesses, including a bauxite mine, an alumina refinery and several smelters in Australia and New Zealand.

The diversified miner is also looking at selling some or all of its diamond mines, which currently include three operations: the 100%-owned Argyle in Australia, 60%-owned Diavik in northern Canada, and Murowa in Zimbabwe, of which it has a 78% interest. Rio also has an advanced diamond project in India.

(Image: Elliot on ABCNews, YouTube)