Newmont CEO not interested in returning to Rio Tinto

Newmont president and chief executive officer Tom Palmer (Image: Screenshot from Youtube Video)

Newmont CEO Tom Palmer is not interested in returning to Rio Tinto to replace CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques, the Financial Times reported.

Prior to joining Newmont in 2014, Palmer was Chief Operating Officer, Pilbara Mines at Rio Tinto.

Jacques resigned over the backlash of the destruction of two 46,000-year-old Aboriginal shelters this year to make way for the expansion of an iron ore mine. Other senior executives — iron ore boss Chris Salisbury, and corporate affairs head Simone Niven, who had responsibility for indigenous affairs — will also leave the company.

“We have some great opportunities in front of us. I am firmly focused on that”

Newmont CEO Tom Palmer

Representatives of the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) peoples sent communications as early as 2008, setting out the importance of the site before preservation efforts picked up in the months before the blast – but they went unheeded, the group said in a submission to a government inquiry.

“I joined Newmont in 2014, very deliberately,” said Palmer, who was born in the New South Wales mining town of Broken Hill. “I saw a company that had a vision that was aligned with mine. And I have not regretted that decision for one second.”

Higher gold prices helped generate significant free cash flow for Newmont in 2020.

The world’s largest gold miner’s adjusted net income for the June quarter was $261 million or $0.32 per diluted share, compared with $92 million or $0.12 per diluted share in the prior-year quarter. The results topped analysts estimates of $0.31 per share.

 The company lifted its dividend by 79% earlier this year.

“I already have the privilege of leading one of the great mining companies in the world. I’ve got the best team I’ve ever had the privilege to work with. And we have some great opportunities in front of us. I am firmly focused on that,” Palmer told the Financial Times.

Rio Tinto may choose to play it safe in its next choice of chief executive officer. Australian politicians are also piling on pressure for a local to be given the role, according to Bloomberg:

The outgoing CEO has also left plenty of problems for his replacement, well beyond the public relations disaster in Western Australia. A unit he set up to invest in green-economy materials has yet to make its mark. Mongolia, where Jacques’s role in settling a previous dispute was key to his elevation, remains a technical, financial and political  headache. The future of the giant Simandou iron ore mine in Guinea is also unclear. Least defensible of all, he stopped short of putting the miner on a decisively carbon-light track, failing to set targets for lower emissions beyond the company’s own operations.

Clara Ferreira Marques – Bloomberg Opinion

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