The diamond division’s new head, Simon Trott, will also run the company’s salt and uranium unit
In a surprise move, Rio Tinto Diamonds managing director Jean-Marc Lieberherr (pictured, right) is leaving the company in a group restructuring.
Twelve-year Rio veteran Simon Trott will replace Lieberherr and retain his current role as head of Rio’s salt and uranium unit. According to a Bloomberg biography, Trott joined Rio Tinto in 2000 as a financial analyst for the diamond division.
Lieberherr has headed the Rio Tinto diamond division since 2013. A veteran marketer who worked for LVMH and Unilever, he began with the division in 2005 in its marketing department.
Lieberherr was recently appointed chairman of the newly formed Diamond Producers Association. At press time, it wasn’t clear if he would retain that position.
The move comes amid speculation about Rio Tinto’s long-term future in the business. Due to government pressure, it sold its 78 percent interest in the Murowa mine in Zimbabwe last year. The Argyle mine is expected to close in 2021, and the Bunder project in India is not yet operational. Rio Tinto still controls 60 percent of the Diavik mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories.
In 2012, Rio Tinto announced plans to dispose of its diamond assets, but a year later, the company changed its mind.
“There is no change to Rio Tinto’s commitment to the diamond industry, to our customers and to other industry partners who are instrumental to our current and future success,” said Alan Davies, chief executive of diamonds and minerals, in a statement.
(Photo courtesy of Rio Tinto)