View Comments
New Rio Tinto boss Sam Walsh. Picture: Reuters.
The West Australian New Rio Tinto boss Sam Walsh. Picture: Reuters.

New crowned Rio Tinto boss Sam Walsh has implored the mining giant's employees to treat company money like it is their own in a sign of the new frugality sweeping the mining industry.

In an email to staff, Mr Walsh said the company needed to "start to do some things differently but not lose sight of what we do well".

"This is about creating greater accountability and responsibility - we must treat the company's money like it is our own and act like owners of our businesses not managers - while retaining our focus on being the best operators in the industry with a relentless focus on safety and optimising our performance," he said.

Mr Walsh's words hint at a change in the miner's corporate culture with a renewed focus on cost cutting and greater efficiencies.

They also point to a top-down directive from the board as to why outgoing chief executive Tom Albanese had to be sacrificed over big writedowns in the company's aluminium business Alcan and more recently the botched acquisition of Mozambique-focused miner Riversdale Mining.

However Mr Walsh was conciliatory in his email thanking Tom (Albanese) and Doug (Ritchie), the former energy boss who was also sacked with Mr Albanese, for their contribution to the company.

"Both have been colleagues of mine during my 21 years with the business and I am grateful for the experience of working closely with them throughout this time," Mr Walsh said.

"It is difficult to do careers spanning over 25 years each justice in a few sentences, so I won't try, but I would like to wish them all the best for the future."

Mr Walsh's email signs off saying: "I will work flat out to build an even stronger Rio Tinto".

"Above all, please stay safe."

Rio shares closed down 44 cents at $66.45.