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Rio Tinto promotes copper boss Bold Baatar to commercial chief

Rio Tinto (ASX, LON, NYSE: RIO) has promoted copper executive Bold Baatar to the post of chief commercial officer, in a move deemed by analysts as a clear indicator that the company sees in the Mongolian national a strong candidate for the top job.

Baatar, who joined the world’s second largest miner in 2013 and assumed as copper chief in 2021, played a key role in leading the company to successfully complete the underground expansion of the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia. He takes the commercial post in September from Alf Barrios, who is retiring and will leave the company at the year’s end, Rio Tinto said in the statement.

The decision comes as the mining giant sharpens its focus on key metals, including copper, a critical component in the global transition to renewable energy and electric vehicles (EVs).

In its new position, Baatar is expected to take on other major projects, including a roughly $6.2 billion investment in the vast Simandou iron ore deposit in Guinea.

“Bold brings deep experience across geographies, commodities, and markets – and combines strong business development expertise with a focus on developing world class relationships,” CEO Jakob Stausholm said in the statement. 

Baatar is seen by investors and analysts as a top contender to succeed Stausholm, who assumed the top post in January 2021. The Danish national has been focused on regaining public and investors trust in the company, following global outcry over the miner’s destruction of sacred Aboriginal rock shelters.

Berenberg’s analyst Richard Hatch, said Batter’s promotion could potentially be another step towards him taking over as CEO of Rio Tinto. He told that he did not anticipate this happening in the near future.

Simon Trott, a long-time employee at Rio who leads its iron ore business, and Peter Cunningham, the company’s chief financial officer, are also considered as other potential candidates for the top position.

Rio Tinto said Barrios will continue to serve as COO until the end of August, after which he will transition to the role of chair for China, Japan, and Korea, before retiring from Rio Tinto by the end of the year.

Source: MINING.COM – Read More