Rio Tinto on Monday tapped Canada's outgoing ambassador to China as its chairman, hoping the veteran consultant's links to its biggest market will help the global miner as it also looks to move on from the scandal over its destruction of ancient rock shelters in Australia.
Dominic Barton will take over as chairman of Rio Tinto on May 5, 2022 from Simon Thompson, who decided to step down from the job to take responsibility for the destruction of the 46,000-year-old Juukan Gorge rock shelters in Western Australia in 2020.
Barton, who spent nine years leading McKinsey & Co and prior to that was its Asia chairman based out of Shanghai, is leaving his two-year assignment as Canada's ambassador to China where he helped secure the release of two detained Canadian citizens amid icy relations between Ottawa and Beijing.
China accounts for more than half of Rio Tinto's revenue, according to the company's latest annual report, largely due to the appetite in the world's second-largest economy for iron ore, a steel-making ingredient essential to the country's infrastructure push.
Rio Tinto faced massive public and investor uproar following the cave blasts in May 2020, which led to the resignations of its then-chief executive officer and two other senior executives.