Smoke billows from chimneys at the Rio Tinto alumina refinery in Gove, 650km east of Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory.  File Picture: REUTERS
Smoke billows from chimneys at the Rio Tinto alumina refinery in Gove, 650km east of Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory. File Picture: REUTERS

Sydney — Controversial Frenchwoman Anne Lauvergeon has stepped down from the board of Rio Tinto just three years after joining the mining giant as a nonexecutive director, the company said Friday.

Lauvergeon, also known as "Atomic Anne", was charged by French authorities last year in a case linked to nuclear giant Areva’s disastrous 2007 purchase of a Canadian uranium mining firm.

French investigators had been questioning Lauvergeon, who ran Areva from 2001-2011, over presenting and publishing false accounts and spreading false information.

Lauvergeon and another Rio nonexecutive director, Robert Brown, "indicated their intention to step down from the board at the Rio Tinto Limited annual general meeting on 4 May 2017", the Anglo-Australian miner said.

They would be replaced by two new nonexecutive directors immediately — David Constable, a former head of Sasol, and Britain’s domestic energy provider Centrica’s ex-CE, Sam Laidlaw.

Outgoing Royal Dutch Shell’s chief financial officer Simon Henry would join the board as a nonexecutive director on July 1, Rio added.

The trio have extensive experience in the oil, gas and energy industries.

Rio chairperson Jan du Plessis welcomed them, praising their "outstanding pedigree, having operated in upstream, capital intensive and global industries".

Canadian Brown joined the Rio board in 2010 and Lauvergeon in 2014. "It’s a little bit of a surprise ... her tenure’s been somewhat shorter than be would normally expected," Fat Prophets resources analyst David Lennox said. "But the board’s still going to be very strong."

The changes came after Frenchman Jean-Sebastien Jacques replaced Sam Walsh as Rio’s CE in July.

The world’s second-largest miner on Wednesday reported an annual net profit of $4.62bn for the year to December 31, a strong turnaround from last year’s loss, due to improving commodity prices.

AFP

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