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Australia's Metals & Mining Sector: The Major Players

|Aug 26|magazine12 min read

Australia’s metals and mining sector is the largest industry sector on the Australian Securities Exchange, with over 600 companies involved in mineral exploration, development and production. The sector comprises several of the world’s largest diversified resource companies, including global giants such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, as well as a number of other national industry leaders.

The thriving and competitive resources sector demands that the best of the best are selected and incorporated to run some of the nation’s largest, most profitable businesses. So, who are the players that run these powerhouse companies? Business Review Australia profiles CEOs from the metal and mining sector’s top companies, based on twelve-month index performance.

BHP Billiton
It’s not easy running the world’s largest mining company, but South African-born Marius Kloppers has grown BHP Billiton’s revenues from $39 billion to $50 billion since being appointed to Chief Executive Officer in 2006. Kloppers has extensive knowledge of the mining industry and of BHP Billiton’s operations, overseeing the global company’s production of iron ore, copper, coal and beyond.

Rio Tinto
Though Rio Tinto has dual headquarters in London and Melbourne, Chief Executive Iron Ore and Australia Sam Walsh runs the Company’s iron ore operations Down Under. Walsh joined the Company in 1991, and has held several positions there including chief executive of the Aluminium group. Since being elected to his position in June 2009, the 60-year-old has made a number of investments for Rio Tinto, including a US$790 million investment to expand the Company’s iron ore operations in the Pilbara.

Newcrest Mining
A veteran of the global mining industry, Newcrest Mining CEO Ian Smith Mining has managed Australia’s largest gold producer since 2006, but has held operational and project management roles with CRA Limited, Pasminco Limited, WMC Resources Limited and Rio Tinto over the last thirty years. Under Smith’s leadership, Newcrest has seen a strong relative share price performance over the last five years, with share prices reaching A$39.75 in 2009.

Fortescue Metals Group
Executive Director Andrew Forrest and Western Australia native started Fortescue in 2003, and has since grown it into one of the world’s leading iron ore producers. In 2006, Forrest orchestrated the creation of the Pilbara Iron Ore and Infrastructure Project, which saw the construction of a port, rail and mine project for the Company’s iron ore production. In 2008, during its first full year of operations, Fortescue mined, railed and shipped more than 27 million tons of iron ore to its Chinese customers.

Lihir Gold
Following a 34-year term with BHP Billiton, metallurgist Graeme Hunt joined Lihir Gold as its Managing Director and CEO in April 2010. Lihir said Hunt was the ideal candidate for the CEO role, possessing strong leadership skills, wide mining industry knowledge and extensive experience in strategic development. Hunt is currently leading Lihir on its new growth strategy, as it plans to expand in Papua New Guinea, West Africa and merge with Newcrest Mining.

OneSteel
Managing Director and CEO Geoff Plummer has been leading the global manufacturer and distributor of steel and finished steel products since 2005. He joined OneSteel in October 2000 from BHP after 22 years there. Under Plummer’s management, OneSteel has reduced raw steel production and operating levels and increased iron ore production to adjust to the global financial crisis.

Bluescope Steel
Bluescope’s CEO Paul O’Malley comes from a background in investment banking and consulting. Prior to joining Australia’s largest steel manufacturer, the New South Wales native held the CEO position at TXU Energy, a subsidiary of TXU Corp in Dallas, Texas. In July 2010, O’Malley devised the long-term joint technical collaboration agreement with Nippon Steel for next-generation coated steel.

Alumina Limited
John Bevan took the role of CEO for the bauxite miner and alumina extractor in 2008, and brought strong commercial and operational experience gained through operating in joint ventures in many parts of the world, predominantly Asia. Bevan had a long career with the BOC Group Plc, including a variety of management roles in Australia, Korea, Thailand and the UK. Though Alumina owns 40 percent of Alcoa World Alumina & Chemicals, it represents nearly 17 percent of the world’s alumina production.

Sims Metal Management
Daniel W. Dienst has served as CEO of the global metal recycling company since 2008, the same year it merged with the New York Stock Exchange-listed Metal Management, Inc. Part of Sims Metal Management’s corporate strategy includes leading consolidation through acquisitions. Dienst, who hails from the USA, most recently acquired British haulage and logistics firm Wincanton Plc, for an undisclosed amount.

Equinox Minerals
In 1993, geologist Craig Williams co-founded the international mining company with Dr. Bruce Nisbet. Now its President and Chief Executive Officer, Williams has been directly involved in several significant discoveries, including the Ernest Henry Deposit in Queensland and a series of gold deposits in Western Australia. Williams has extensive corporate management and financing experience.