Jean-Sebastien Jacques is copper chief executive.
Jean-Sebastien Jacques is copper chief executive.

Harding replaces Sam Walsh, who became Rio Tinto chief executive in January 2013. Harding's successor as copper chief executive is Jean-Sebastien Jacques, formerly copper president, international operations. He will join the executive committee.

"These two appointments strengthen our senior management team and are in line with our strategy of developing the next generation of talented Rio Tinto leaders,” Walsh said. "Andrew's experience across a range of Rio Tinto businesses and countries, and his three years on the Executive Committee mean he is ideally placed to run the highest-earning business in the Group.”

Walsh added: "Jean-Sebastien has been with Rio Tinto for just over a year and has made a real impact and injected some fresh thinking into the copper business. He has extensive experience in the steel and aluminium industries, and has recently been leading work in Mongolia, as well as being responsible for mines and projects from Australia to South Africa."

Harding will be based in Perth, Western Australia, and Jean-Sebastien Jacques will remain based in London.