* Dominic Barton will take office as chairman on May 5 and join the board in April

* Was Managing Director of McKinsey for 9 years (adds details on Barton, China-Australia tensions)

Dec.20 (Reuters) – Rio Tinto on Monday picked Canada’s outgoing ambassador to China as president, hoping the veteran consultant’s ties to its largest market will help the global miner as it seeks to extricate itself from the scandal of the destruction of old rock shelters in Australia.

Dominic Barton will succeed as Rio president Simon Thompson, who has decided to step down https://www.reuters.com/business/rio-tinto-chairman-becomes-latest-high-profile-departure-after-caves – blast-2021-03-02 to take responsibility for the destruction of the 46,000-year-old Juukan Gorge rock shelters in Western Australia in May 2020.

The Anglo-Australian company faced public and investor outcry over the cave explosions, which led to the resignation https://www.reuters.com/article/rio-tinto-ceo-int-idUSKBN2613OD its CEO at the time and two other senior executives.

Barton, 59, of Ugandan descent, will join Rio’s board of directors on April 4 before becoming chairman on May 5, the company said. Jakob Stausholm has been CEO for almost a year.

Barton, who spent nine years at the helm of McKinsey & Co and previously was its Shanghai-based president for Asia, is leaving https://www.reuters.com/article/us-canada-china-idCAKBN2IL15Y his mission as two years as Canada’s Ambassador to China where he helped secure the release of two Canadian citizens detained amid icy relations between Ottawa and Beijing.

China accounts for more than half of Rio’s revenue, according to the company’s latest annual report, in large part due to the world’s second-largest economy’s appetite for iron ore, a steel ingredient essential to the infrastructure push. from the country.

This demand has helped push iron ore prices up this year, leading Rio to post record profits https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/rio-tinto-first-half- earnings-more-than-doubles-2021-07-28 in the first half, although prices have since cooled.

Barton is expected to step down as ambassador at the end of the year and as president of Rio he will have to deal with rising tensions between Canberra and Beijing, which has imposed tariffs on wine and barley Australians, as well as a severe restriction on coal imports.

On his plate, he will also help Rio complete several growth projects, including the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold project in Mongolia and the $ 2.4 billion Jadar lithium mine in Serbia.

He was Managing Director of McKinsey when his work in South Africa https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mckinsey-safrica-idUSKBN1CL316 with utility company Eskom resulted in management consulting in a political scandal . (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Paul Simao and Peter Cooney)