The mining bubble certainly burst on Tom Albanese.

When the Rio Tinto chief executive was appointed in 2007 shares in the company were trading above $83 on the Australian Stock Exchange. By 2008, at the height of mining activity in this country, he’d pushed the price above $120.

But what analysts began to worry about, and the full horror of which was revealed yesterday, was that the company was in way over its head. It paid US$38 billion for Canadian aluminium miner Alcan — it’s maybe worth US$28 billion now (after revealing further impairments of US$14 billion). And it had another US$3 billion haircut in Africa, with its coal mining operations in Mozambique failing to deliver.

As Albanese walked out the door last night after markets closed — a fall guy for an astonishing fall in value — shares in the company were at $64.60.

And what do investors think of the leadership change and the new guy, Perth player and iron ore boss Sam Walsh? Shares were trading up as Crikey hit deadline at $66.70.

It’s that number that might hurt Albanese more than any other.


A memorial service for the late medical research Professor Gavin Mooney and his partner Dr Del Weston — Mooney was a long-time contributor to the Crikey network — will be held this Sunday in Tasmania. The 2.30pm service will be held at Mountain River Hall south-west of Hobart. Our thoughts are still with family, friends and colleagues of the respected and beloved pair.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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