Rio Tinto CEO, Jean-Sébastien Jacques, addresses new technology, climate change and sustainability at London Metal Exchange Week


Rio Tinto CEO keynote addresses change and sustainability

Rio Tinto CEO keynote addresses change and sustainability

Chief Executive of Rio Tinto, Jean-Sébastien Jacques (J-S) delivered the keynote address for London Metal Exchange Week.

During his speech, J-S discussed changes in technology, climate change and sustainability. He also focused on the speed of change and level of complexity for the industry, which he predicts will "be far, far greater in the next ten years than in previous times".

Redefining industry in a complex world

 J-S Jacques started his speech by saying “We need to redefine our industry to make the most of a more complex world, with different forces at play – challenging geopolitics, increased expectations from society and changing technology.

Sustainability, partnerships and data will underpin everything we do. And we need to be strong, proactive and disciplined to win.” 

“We must be better tuned in to the changing world around us. We must adapt as we have been doing for a century or more, but we need to do it quicker than ever before to stay on the front foot," he added.

A time for strength and resilience

“While 2003 to 2013 were about excess, and the late 2010s about discipline, perhaps the 2020s will be more about strength and resilience. The industry needs to drive its own agenda," said J-S.

“As demand for some materials remains flat or declines, and the circular economy takes hold, the push for scale will change”

Discussing scale, J-S said it’s possible that we will see smaller electric trucks, GPS, AI & autonomous rail-cars replacing rail locos. “This could potentially unlock billions of tonnes of previously ‘uneconomic’ resources and lead to the mining of waste and tailings,' he commented. 

In order to address these issues, J-S said new ways of working need to be considered: “Maybe the majors need to think more like fast moving juniors. Instead of looking for the big bang development options, [start] with smaller mines, which can be built quickly and safely, with embedded optionality for growth."

Climate change and sustainability 

J-S also took the time to discuss the important topics of climate change and sustainability. On climate change, he said “There is absolutely no doubt we must play our part in reducing emissions for future generations. This requirement is already driving structural changes across our industry.” 

On sustainability overall, he added "our approach needs be based on a pragmatic kind of sustainability, with profitability at its heart. Only a profitable business can provide sustainable benefits to shareholders, to communities, to governments.”

Looking to the future with resilience

In closing his speech, J-S concluded “We are resilient. We have pioneered in some of the most remote places on planet earth. And now we need to put our minds to the problems and opportunities of the 21st Century.”

Introducing the first Women in Commodities Lunch 

In addition to J-S' keynote, various activities took place over #LMEweek, including a Women in Commodities Lunch.

The inaugural event included a welcome address from LME Chairman Elect Gay Huey-Evans and discussion on gender diversity in the commodities market.

Women in Commodities Lunch

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