Rio Tinto chief steps down following $14bn charge

The chief executive of miner Rio Tinto has stepped down, in a surprise move following a $14bn (£8.7m) charge.

Outgoing Tom Albanese, who joined Rio two decades ago, will be replaced by Rio Tinto’s iron ore chief Sam Walsh, with effect from today.

The $14bn charge includes around $3bn relating to Rio Tinto Coal Mozambique, as well as reductions in the carrying values of Rio Tinto’s aluminium assets in the range of between $10 and $11bn.

Doug Ritchie, who led the acquisition and integration of the Mozambique coal assets when he was head of Rio's energy division, has also stepped down.

The FTSE 100 miner also expects to report several other smaller write-downs to the tune of around $500m.

Rio chairman Jan du Plessis said this morning that the board acknowledges the scale of the write-down is “unacceptable”.

“We are also deeply disappointed to have to take a further substantial write-down in our aluminium businesses, albeit in an industry that continues to experience significant adverse changes globally,” he added.

The write-downs will be included in Rio Tinto’s full-year results on 14 February.