Thompson, whose four-year stint as chairman was marred by the destruction of the Juukan Gorge caves, announced earlier this year that he would step down as soon as a successor was discovered.
The outgoing chairman acknowledged then that he was “finally accountable” for the blasting at Juukan Gorge to broaden an iron ore mine.
“It’s a nice honour to succeed Simon as Chair of Rio Tinto. Returning to the personal sector, I’m excited to affix an organization with world-class individuals and belongings because it navigates a shifting aggressive panorama and seeks to emerge as a frontrunner within the local weather transition,” Barton stated in the statement.
The worldwide seek for Thompson’s substitute was collectively led by UK senior impartial director Sam Laidlaw and Australian senior impartial director Simon McKeon.
The method included discussions with a cross-section of the corporate’s shareholders in relation to the attributes, expertise and expertise they anticipated within the new chair.
Barton’s appointment comes following a turbulent time for Rio Tinto after its destroyed a historic web site in Western Australia, which was of huge cultural significance to the indigenous inhabitants.
The incident led to the resignations of its then-chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques and two different senior executives.
A Ugandan-born Canadian, Barton spent over 30 years at McKinsey & Firm, together with 9 as the worldwide managing companion and 6 as Asia chairman. He additionally spent one yr as chairman of Teck Assets (TSE: TECK.A) (TSE: TECK.B) (NYSE: TECK) and has been Canada’s ambassador to China since 2019.
Rio is beneath elevated strain from traders on environmental and social insurance policies, however commerce and political tensions between China and Australia might current a serious headache for Barton.
The diplomatic spat that started in 2018 and intensified final yr has seen China bar Australian items starting from coal to copper, wine and lobsters.
Barton may also have to assist Rio navigate rising points surrounding two of its prime progress initiatives —the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine growth in Mongolia and the $2.4 billion Jadar lithium mine in Serbia.
The corporate agreed final week to cancel a $2.3 billion debt owed by Mongolia as a part of the federal government’s share of the event costs for the underground extension of Oyu Tolgoi.
Rio can be dealing with hostility to its lithium challenge in in western Serbia. Early this month, native opponents organized a motion that has rocked the federal government and introduced cities to a standstill as thousands of protesters marched in the streets. Authorities subsequently suspended a land-use plan for the proposed mine, although they didn’t reject the challenge utterly.