Rio Tinto to merge coal division with copper unit

OREANDA-NEWS. UK-Australian mining firm Rio Tinto will combine its coal division with its copper unit as part of a restructuring to cut costs and improve operational efficiency and boost productivity.

The coal unit, which includes Rio Tinto's coking and thermal coal operations, along with its uranium assets were previously grouped under its energy division. But the latest restructuring will see uranium added to the diamonds and minerals product group headed by Alan Davies. The new arrangements take effect immediately, the company said.

Rio Tinto's energy chief executive Harry Kenyon-Slaney will leave following the restructuring. The combined coal and copper business will be headed by existing Rio Tinto copper chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques.

The iron ore and aluminium businesses will remain unchanged as single operating units. Rio Tinto's copper business generates more revenue and profits for the company than its coal operations.

Rio Tinto's energy business incurred a loss of \$210mn in 2014 after making a profit of \$33mn a year earlier. Most of the 2014 losses came from the losses incurred on the sale of its Mozambique coal assets last year.

Capital expenditure in its energy business unit fell sharply to \$224mn in 2014 from \$732mn in 2013. Rio Tinto expects its share of thermal, semi-soft and hard coking coal production this year to be 18.5mn t, 3.2mn t and 7.6mn t respectively.