Rio Tinto making last job cuts of the year

Mining giant Rio Tinto (ASX, LON:RIO) is said to be sharpening the job-cutting knife this week, with an unconfirmed number of contractors shown the door at its Argyle diamond mine and at least 30 positions on the line at its coal operations in the Hunter Valley.

Since September last year Rio has cut at least 500 jobs at its Argyle mine in Western Australia, according to Ferrest’s estimations.

Meanwhile, the company’s subsidiary Coal & Allied is set to slash about 30 jobs by the end of the month at its Hunter Valley Operations, according to sources quoted by Australian Mining.

Both moves come as Rio pushes ahead with plans to reduce operating and support costs by $5 billion ($A4.87 billion) this year, as part of an austerity program first announced in April 2012.

Since assuming the company’s leadership in January this year, CEO Sam Walsh has taken several measures to build a more focused and accountable business.

In the last 14 months, Rio has cut hundreds of jobs at its Western Australia iron ore operations, let go nearly 500 workers at Argyle since Sept 2012, and axed positions at its other Hunter Valley coal projects.

It also got rid of an 80% stake in NorthParkes copper mine in Australia and slashed almost 2,000 jobs at its Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia.

This summer, the miner sold its South African copper producer Palabora Mining to Chinese and South African firms and dropped its Eagle nickel project in the United States.

And that’s not all. Last month Rio Tinto sold its mothballed Blair Athol coal mine in Queensland and even the company’s head office in London saw 200 people depart.