Mining giant Rio Tinto has appointed the former BHP Billiton executive Chris Lynch as its new chief financial officer, 18 months after he joined Rio as a non-executive director.
The surprise move is part of a streamlined executive structure that Rio’s newly appointed chief executive Sam Walsh has implemented.
Mr Lynch will replace Guy Elliot on April 18.
Rio said Mr Lynch will remain on the board and become an executive director and member of the executive committee as chief financial officer-elect on March 1.
Rio said Mr Elliott announced his intention to retire in July last year.
Mr Walsh is streamlining his executive committee by reducing the number of positions reporting to him from 11 to nine.
"The vacant group executive strategy position will not be filled, and strategy will continue to be part of the chief financial officer portfolio," Mr Walsh said in a statement.
He said Bret Clayton's role of group executive, business support and operations will be restructured and its responsibilities will transfer to other executive committee members from March 1.
Mr Clayton will stay with the group to oversee the divestment of Pacific Aluminium.
Mr Lynch’s past roles include senior appointments at BHP, chief executive of Transurban, senior positions at Alcoa and executive director and group president of Carbon steel.
The appointment of Mr Lynch comes a month after Rio Tinto boss Tom Albanese stepped down after the global miner announced it would write down the value of its aluminium assets by - and Mozambique coal assets by .
Rio Tinto subsequently announced a full year net loss for 2012 of almost billion (.91 billion) and was criticised for its near total dependence on iron ore despite calling itself a diversified resources company.
Doug Ritchie, who led the acquisition and integration of the Rio's Mozambique coal assets, stepped down from the company last month.