Our four product groups bring this purpose to life: Aluminium, Copper, Minerals and Iron Ore. These are complemented by our Development & Technology and Commercial groups, as well as our service and support functions.
We are one of the world’s leading producers of iron ore, the primary raw material in steelmaking. In the Pilbara region of Western Australia, we operate a network of 17 iron ore mines, four port terminals and a rail network spanning nearly 2,000 kilometres. Steel remains essential for ongoing urbanisation and will support the global shift to decarbonise.
Interview with Simon Trott
Accelerating the decarbonisation of our assets is one of the key elements of our strategy. How did the Iron Ore product group progress in this area in 2022?
The Pilbara is extremely well-positioned to contribute to our emissions reduction targets through renewable power with access to abundant wind and solar resources.
As part of our decarbonisation efforts, we expect to invest around $3 billion to install a mammoth one-gigawatt renewable energy system in the Pilbara. As part of this investment, we will fund the construction of two 100MW solar power facilities as well as 200MWh of on-grid battery storage in the Pilbara by 2026. This is in addition to the 34MW of solar power installed at the recently commissioned Gudai-Darri iron ore mine. We are also collaborating with Scania to develop more agile autonomous haul trucks, which have the potential for lower emissions and increased productivity. And last year, we agreed to purchase at least four battery-powered locomotives to add to our rail network to remove diesel from our locomotive fleet. And the development of the new low-carbon iron-making process, known as BioIronTM, will help reduce emissions in steelmaking.
Looking back on 2022, what were some of your highlights?
We continued to strengthen our partnerships with local communities and Traditional Owners. By working together, and truly listening to understand, we were able to achieve a great deal with the Traditional Owners on whose land we operate.
We know we still have a long way to go, but our focus on changing the way we work with Traditional Owners to better protect heritage has been a real highlight. I feel privileged that Pilbara Traditional Owners have invested so much of their time with me and others in our business, as we continue to rebuild trust.
We entered into a remedy agreement with the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura Aboriginal Corporation over the tragic destruction of the ancient rock shelters at Juukan Gorge in 2020. We also agreed with the Yinhawangka people on a plan to ensure the protection of significant social and cultural heritage values for the Western Range iron ore mine on their Country. This is the first mine we have co-designed with Traditional Owners.
Our agreement with the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation was also updated, which aims to deliver improved outcomes for the Yindjibarndi people for generations to come.
My hope is that we look back on these agreements as milestones on our pathway to reconciliation and better outcomes for Pilbara Traditional Owners.
We made genuine progress in securing the future of the Pilbara by delivering the mines of the future. This included opening our newest mine, Gudai-Darri, and reaching an agreement with China Baowu Steel Group to develop Western Range.
We modernised our Rhodes Ridge joint venture with Wright Prospecting, an agreement that paves the way for development of one of the world’s biggest high-grade deposits of iron ore.
To transform our safe operating performance, we rolled out seven deployments of the Safe Production System (SPS) across the Pilbara. The SPS is driving productivity and employee satisfaction at our sites by empowering our people to find better ways of working. There will be further deployments at our mines, rail, ports and operations centre in 2023.
Over the past year, our business has put a lot of focus on creating a workplace free from harassment. What is the Iron Ore product group focusing on to ensure we change our culture for the better?
February marked 12 months since we released the Everyday Respect Report. This was a watershed moment for us as a business and has since had flow-on effects in our industry and across other sectors.
It is clear there is work to be done to evolve our culture. But the only way to see real change is by first looking at ourselves, challenging our own biases, and then being prepared to stand up and lead – challenging others to change.
One of the biggest impacts we have seen so far has been the openness in the discussions we are now having about our culture. In 2022 we stopped our operations for 45 minutes for a second year in a row, to open up space for teams to talk about respect. I have been moved by stories from team members who have had really hard conversations, challenging themselves and each other.
In 2022, we launched a variety of new training courses for leaders and frontline workers – upskilling our entire workforce on the behaviours we want to see across the organisation.
To reinforce this culture transformation and openness, last year we introduced Purple Banners on sites. They are used to highlight disrespectful, discriminatory and hurtful behaviours occurring in our business – in the same way we highlight safety concerns.
Over the past two years we have implemented a range of measures to make our workplaces safer and more inclusive, such as upgrading rooms and enhancing security in our fly-in, fly-out accommodation facilities.
In 2022, we launched the Transferable Pathways programme where we recruited 32 women leaders from other industries to take on leadership operational roles. I was blown away by the response to the programme. We are already seeing the difference these people are making to our business, bringing different ways of thinking and challenging us to change. We have also updated our global minimum standard for paid parental leave to suit different family needs, now offering 18 weeks of gender-neutral and equal paid parental leave. And to close the gender superannuation gap, we continue to contribute to an employee's superannuation while an employee is on unpaid or half-pay parental leave.
Snapshot of 2022
AIFR (2021: 0.67)
Pilbara underlying FOB EBITDA margin (2021: 76%)
Underlying EBITDA (2021: $27.6B)
Segmental revenue (2021: 39.6B)
Capital expenditure (2021: $3.9B)
Net cash generated from operating activities (2021: $19.2B)
Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions (equity Mt CO2e) (2021: 3.0Mt)
Employee numbers (2021: 13,000)
As a global leader in low-carbon aluminium, we are uniquely positioned to further decarbonise our business and support the world’s transition towards a lower-carbon footprint. A critical material – lightweight and infinitely recyclable – aluminium is found in diverse products ranging from solar panels to electric vehicles and smartphones.
Interview with Ivan Vella
Ivan, what were some of your highlights for the Aluminium product group in 2022?
2022 has been a year of transition for our aluminium business. We've seen our first growth projects announced for nearly a decade with the planned expansion of the AP60 technology at our Arvida smelter, investment to increase our billet production at Alma and our early-stage investments in recycling – all here in Quebec.
We've defined a pathway for the decarbonisation of our operations, and one of the areas I'm most proud of is the work to repower the Boyne smelter in Queensland, working closely with the government and a number of energy partners. Through partnerships, we’re also working on an action plan for the decarbonisation of our refineries in Queensland, and on ELYSIS we're continuing to work at pace with our partners to provide a foundation to develop zero-carbon aluminium smelting.
We have access to self-generated hydro energy here in Canada, something that's extremely unique. We have amazing technical resources. We have an integrated global value chain, and our deep commitment to working with First Nations has resulted in the co-creation of an agreement with Pekuakamiulnuatsh right here in Quebec.
Rio Tinto is focusing on creating a workplace free of bullying, sexual harassment and racism. What did the Aluminium product group focus on in 2022 to improve our culture?
We continue to build and improve our culture. The Everyday Respect Report was a call to action, and we're deeply committed to the work required to make these improvements across our business. One of the areas I'm most proud of in this space is our work at Kitimat and our deep commitment to building a respectful culture there. We're working hard to repair a long legacy of mistrust and tension between the workforce and the leadership and making lots of progress despite many of the challenges in the last two years. While we still have much to do, we have drawn a clear line of expectation for behaviours right across our business.
What is the focus for the Aluminium product group in 2023?
Aluminium is a cyclical industry but we're in it for the long term. We're dedicated to building a resilient business that will perform through the cycle and we want our people and our operations to be at their very best, at the most difficult times. In this year, our 150th anniversary, we'll continue to build on our deep technical expertise to partner and collaborate to solve some of the most complex challenges as we decarbonise, repower and grow our business.
Snapshot of 2022
AIFR (2021: 0.33)
Underlying EBITDA margin (integrated operations) (2021: 38%)
Underlying EBITDA (2021: $4.4B)
Segmental revenue (2021: $12.7B)
Capital expenditure (2021: $1.3B)
Net cash generated from operating activities (2021: $3.6B)
Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions (equity Mt CO2e) (2021: 21.7Mt)
Employee numbers (2021: 14,000)
Copper is essential to creating a sustainable, low-carbon world. Rapid electrification across all aspects of daily life is set to drive long-term demand for copper. With assets spanning the globe and an evolving suite of technologies to enable low-carbon production, we are accelerating growth and decarbonisation by producing the materials that enable a cleaner future.
Interview with Bold Baatar
Bold, what were some of your highlights and challenges for the Copper product group in 2022?
2022 has been a year of achievement. In January, we reached an agreement with the Government of Mongolia, we completed the acquisition of Turquoise Hill Resources in December, and by the end of 2022, a total of 19 drawbells had been fired at Oyu Tolgoi. At Simandou in Guinea, we progressed negotiations towards the co-development of project infrastructure with our Chinese partners and the Government of Guinea. At Kennecott, we had the best All Injury Frequency Rate in its history. We also approved the start of underground mining and began extracting tellurium concentrate, a critical mineral used in solar panels, from waste.
Rio Tinto is focusing on creating a workplace free from bullying, sexual harassment and racism. What did the Copper product group focus on in 2022 to improve our culture?
Creating a workplace free from bullying, sexual harassment and racism requires strong leadership and the right culture. When we look at culture, it is the pattern of behaviours over time that are either accepted, not accepted or tolerated, and the processes and systems in our business. It starts with me as a leader and my behaviours. It is about leading by example, being humble and humane and empowering our leaders by reducing hierarchy.
What is the focus for Copper in 2023?
The world needs copper to decarbonise, and we have strong assets and brownfield and greenfield expansion options. This year is about continuing to progress the development of the infrastructure at Simandou, while also maximising local content and supporting local suppliers. We will also be transitioning to operations at the Oyu Tolgoi underground project, with sustainable production on track for the first quarter of 2023. And then the US is a huge focus for us in being able to supply US copper in America.
Snapshot of 2022
AIFR (2021: 0.21)
Underlying EBITDA margin (product group operations) (2021: 59%)
Underlying EBITDA (2021: $4.0B)
Segmental revenue (2021: $7.8B)
Capital expenditure (2021: $1.3B)
Net cash generated from operating activities (2021: $2.6B)
Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions (equity Mt CO2e) (2021: 2.2Mt)
Employee numbers (2021: 7,000)
Our Minerals portfolio includes a global suite of businesses producing materials essential to a low-carbon future and projects well-positioned to meet the growing demand for electric vehicles. We produce high-grade, low-impurity iron ore pellets and concentrate, titanium dioxide, diamonds and borates from our operations in Canada, Madagascar, South Africa and the US.
Interview with Sinead Kaufman
What were some of your highlights for the Minerals product group in 2022?
As I reflect on 2022, a significant moment for us was the acquisition of the Rincon Lithium Project in Argentina. We have continued to further diversify our portfolio of commodities, focusing on the minerals that the world needs.
On top of the work we're doing to bring the Rincon Lithium Project online, we're working hard in the critical minerals space. For example, we're extracting high purity scandium oxide from the waste streams of titanium dioxide production, and we continue to invest in research and development and form key partnerships with experts from industry, academia and government, with the goal of finding better ways to produce the materials that the world needs.
We also continue to honour the Argyle Pink Diamonds brand, the rarest pink diamonds in the world, and the Argyle legacy beyond the life of mine, by working downstream in a new business model with two icon partners.
Accelerating the decarbonisation of our assets is one of the key elements of our strategy. How did the Minerals product group progress in this area in 2022?
The world needs to decarbonise. This is driving the demand for critical minerals at a pace that's been rarely seen in the history of the resources industry. Indeed, the World Bank estimates that over three billion tonnes of minerals and metals will be needed for wind, solar and geothermal power, as well as energy storage. In 2022, we also accelerated our own decarbonisation, including partnering with Voltalia to bring solar power to our Richards Bay Minerals operations in South Africa.
Progression on the construction of a solar and wind plant at our QIT Madagascar Minerals operations in Fort-Dauphin, once completed, will provide renewable energy to replace 60% of the mine's coal-fired electricity consumption with clean energy. And in September, we announced that we're partnering with the Government of Canada to invest up to $537 million over the next eight years to decarbonise our Rio Tinto Iron and Titanium Quebec Operations in Sorel-Tracy. This will position our business as a centre for excellence for critical minerals and increase our scandium production while we’re also piloting a process to add titanium metal to the portfolio.
There is still much work to be done, but I am excited at the possibilities for the Minerals product group during what is a pivotal moment in time for the energy transition. We have the capability to make a difference.
Snapshot of 2022
AIFR (2021: 0.38)
Underlying EBITDA margin (product group operations) (2021: 43%)
Underlying EBITDA (2021: $2.6B)
Segment revenue (2021: $6.5B)
Capital expenditure (2021: $0.6B)
Net cash generated from operating activities (2021: $1.4B)
Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions (equity Mt CO2e) (2021: 3.5Mt)
Employee numbers (2021: 9,000)
Our Commercial team includes global sales and marketing, procurement, and marine and logistics operations. We are the primary interface with markets, customers and suppliers – local, regional and global – through a network of over 20,000 active suppliers and almost 2,000 customers.
As the key interface to the market, our Commercial team works very closely with our customers and suppliers. We generate insights and opportunities to unlock the full commercial potential across our value chains, always striving to find better ways to provide the materials the world needs.
Interview with Alf Barrios
Accelerating the decarbonisation of our business is one of the key elements of our strategy. How did the Commercial function progress in this area in 2022?
Firstly, we are working with our customers. We partnered with our steel manufacturing customers to help address their Scope 1 (our Scope 3) emissions. In 2022, these partnerships included Baowu, Nippon Steel Corporation, BlueScope, Shougang and Salzgitter Flachstahl.
More broadly, we formed several new multi-commodity partnerships with customers such as Ford and Volvo Group. The aim of these partnerships is to provide solutions to decarbonise the value chain by offering low-carbon aluminium and materials for the future, such as lithium and copper. Another great example is our continued partnership with ABInbev, with whom we launched a specially marked, low-carbon beverage can made from Rio Tinto aluminium, using ELYSISTM technology. These cans included a QR code, leveraging STARTTM, our blockchain technology that we launched in 2021, to inspire consumers to learn more about the cans’ low-carbon footprint.
We are also working with the product groups, our assets and suppliers on the switch to biofuels, fleet electrification and renewable projects to reduce emissions in the short and longer term. We joined the First Movers Coalition in 2022 to help commercialise zero-carbon technologies by harnessing purchasing power and supply chains in the difficult-to-abate areas of shipping, aviation, and trucking.
And we are working to decarbonise Commercial’s own operations through energy efficiencies, applying technical modifications to our vessels, and operational enhancements using data to optimise speed and routing. We have delivered 30% intensity reduction relative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) 2018 baseline on our owned and time-chartered marine fleet, and we are aiming to meet the IMO’s target of 40% by 2030, in 2025.
What were your highlights for the Commercial function in 2022?
We progressed our marine and crew welfare strategy, commencing the Designated Owners and Operators initiative in 2022, which includes enhanced vetting and promotes Group-wide safety standards. We also initiated a Mining Shipping Safety Forum with our peers to raise safety and welfare standards across the bulk shipping industry.
We refreshed our Commercial strategy and successfully implemented the largest restructure since the Commercial function was established in 2018, simplifying the organisation across our “sell” (Sales and Marketing), “buy” (Procurement) and “move” (Marine and Logistics) core activity areas. It has increased our external focus and positioned us to better deliver the Group strategy.
The new structure already started delivering results in 2022. We have been driving new multi-commodity customer partnerships, internal process simplification driven by our global procurement team, and decarbonisation initiatives in our supply chains, focussed on steel decarbonisation, marine emissions reduction, and mobile equipment at our operations.
Over the past year, our business has put a lot of focus on creating a workplace free from bullying and harassment. What’s been done in the Commercial function this year to ensure we change our culture for the better?We are implementing all of the Everyday Respect Report recommendations. In 2022, we made improvements to facilities on our owned marine vessels to provide a more inclusive and safer environment for all crew members.
Our leaders have a critical role to play in creating and sustaining a safe, inclusive culture. Over 90% of our Commercial leaders completed the Everyday Respect training in 2022 with the remainder completing the course in 2023. This training equips our leaders to be more effective in role-modelling our values and behaviours, so we have a workplace that brings out the best in all of us.
What were the biggest challenges for Commercial in 2022?
On any given day, we have almost 250 vessels with 5,000 crew members on the water, so we take the safety and welfare of our marine crews very seriously. And as the largest shipper by tonnage in the world, it is an area we seek to influence; our aspiration is to be one of the leaders in the industry.
Global supply chains also remained disrupted for much of 2022. Our Commercial team has been working closely with our assets, customers, suppliers, and marine and logistics partners to manage the disruptions and market volatility to ensure operations at our assets are not impacted, and that we can continue to deliver on our commitments to our customers.
What is the focus for the Commercial function in 2023?
Looking forward, we will focus on providing multi-commodity offerings to market that meet the growing demand for low-carbon solutions and expanding work with partners to find decarbonisation pathways for our own operations as well as theirs. And we will actively work towards our ambition to be a leader and influence industry-wide improvements in marine safety.
Snapshot of 2022
Group consolidated sales revenue (2021: $63.5B)
In contestable spend globally (2021: $17.9B)
Spent with Indigenous suppliers in Australia, an increase of 40% from 2021 (2021: $400M)
Increase in spend with Chinese suppliers from 2021 (2021: 44%)
Contracts under management (2021: 2,100)
Shipments by rail, truck and containers