Rio Tinto Group

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Rio Tinto
Rio Tinto Logo
Type Public ( LSE: RIO)
Founded 1873
Headquarters Flag of United Kingdom London & Flag of Australia Melbourne
Key people Paul Skinner, Chairman
R. Leigh Clifford, CEO
Guy Elliot, Finance Director
Industry Mining
Products Coal
Revenue $25,440 million ( 2006)
Operating income $8,974 million ( 2006)
Net income $7,867 million ( 2006)
Employees 32,000 ( 2004)

Rio Tinto ( LSE: RIO) is a multinational mining and resources group founded originally in 1873. The group is one of the world's largest mining companies, with a pre-tax profit of approximately 10.2 billion US dollars in 2006 on consolidated turnover of 25.4 billion USD.

Since 1995, Rio Tinto has been a dual listed company. Rio Tinto Limited, formerly known as CRA, is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, with Rio Tinto plc (formerly RTZ) listed on the London Stock Exchange as well as New York Stock Exchange (under ticker RTP). The two companies are managed as a single economic unit by a unified board, with a share in either company entitling the owner to the same voting rights and dividend payouts. RTZ shareholders made up 76.7% of the new unified entity, which is primarily managed from London.

Its current chief executive is Leigh Clifford and the company board is chaired by Paul Skinner.


Rio Tinto's origins are in southern Spain, at the site of an ancient mine which supplied the Roman Empire. In 1873 N M Rothschild & Sons of London and de Rothschild Frères of Paris joined with other investors to acquire the Spanish government's money-losing Rio Tinto mines. The new owners restructured the company and turned it into a profitable business. By 1905, the Rothchild interest in Rio Tinto amounted to more than 30 percent.

In 1962 the (British) Rio Tinto Company acquired a majority stake in Consolidated Zinc, an Australian company, and was renamed the Rio Tinto-Zinc Corporation (RTZ). The Australian company was renamed Conzinc Riotinto of Australia (CRA) but retained a separate corporate identity, with an increasing proportion of its shares being held by the Australian public.

The current dual listed company structure was created in 1995.

Other commodities

Rio Tinto owns the Borax company that produces borax and is famous for the "20 Mule Team" trademark which it shares with the Dial Corporation.

Rio Tinto also produces bauxite, gold, titanium, lead, zinc, cobalt, nickel and uranium.


The company also has a technology group conducting research and development, notably including the HIsmelt iron smelting process, and an exploration group.


Environmental, political, safety and labour rights concerns have been raised against Rio Tinto by both environmental groups and unions, in particular the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU). The CFMEU ran a campaign against the company which tried to de-unionise its workforce after the introduction of the Howard Government's Workplace Relations Act 1996.

Another has been Rio Tinto's involvement in Papua New Guinea which triggered the Bougainville separatist crisis. See Lea, David (1999) Corporate and Public Responsibility, Stakeholder Theory and the Developing World, Business Ethics: A European Review, 8 (3): 151-162. While RTZ has put a lot of energy into cleaning up its tainted human-right image from the aftermath of crisises like the above, many critics feel the company has not substantially changed .

Rio Tinto has also won an award for ethicial behaviour, the Worldaware Award for Sustainable development. However, although this award was decided by an independent committee, it was, like some other WorldAware Awards, sponsored by another multinational corporation (in this case, the sponsor was Tate and Lyle). Rio Tinto has, in turn, sponsored their own WorldAware award - the Rio Tinto Award for Long-term Commitment, which was awarded to a variety of local and multinational players including in 1999 to Shell Pakistan.

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