If you must make several huge blunders, do it in the mining industry Capitalism is supposed to be a fight for survival. Most discussions of markets lapse into Darwinian clichés before too long. In particular instances, however, the market can be remarkably forgiving of companies’ maladaptations. Take Rio Tinto. On Tuesday, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) handed down a £25m fine against Rio in connection with the losses it took on a coal mine in Mozambique. Rio paid $3.7bn for the mine in 2011. The coal turned out to be impossible to get to market (that this went unnoticed in the due diligence process is astonishing). The asset was sold for $50m in 2014. The FCA found that Rio negligently failed to carry out an impairment test on the mine, with the result that its 2012 filings were misleading. The US Securities and Exchange Commission takes a dimmer view. It has charged Rio, and its former CEO and chief financial officers, of fraud. They allege that the executives knew of ...

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