Australia's Metals & Mining Sector: The Major Players
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
Business Chief Legend: Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek
Ask Singaporeans who Ho Ching is, and the majority will answer the ‘wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’. And that’s certainly true. However, she’s also the CEO of Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, and one of the world’s largest investment companies.
Well, she is until October 1, 2021, as she recently announced she would be retiring following 16 years as CEO of the investment giant.
Since taking the reins in 2004, two years after joining Temasek as Executive Director, Ho has gradually transformed what was an investment firm wholly owned by Singapore’s Government into an active investor worldwide, splashing out on sectors like life sciences and tech, expanding its physical footprint with 11 offices worldwide (from London to Mumbai to San Francisco) and delivering growth of US$120 billion between 2010-2020.
Described by Temasek chairman Lim Boon Heng as having taken “bold steps to open new pathways in finding the character of the organisations”, Ho is credited with building Temasek’s international portfolio, with China recently surpassing Singapore for the first time.
As global a footprint as Ho may have however, she has her feet firmly planted on Singapore soil and is committed to this tiny city-state where she was not only educated (excluding a year at Stanford) but has remained throughout her long and illustrious career – first as an engineer at the Ministry of Defence in 1976, where she met her husband, and most notably as CEO of Singapore Technologies, where she spent a decade, and where she is credited with repositioning and growing the group into the largest listed defence engineering company in Asia.
It’s little wonder Ho has featured on Forbes’ annual World’s Most Powerful Women list for the past 16 years, in 2007 as the third most powerful woman in business outside the US, and in 2020 at #30 worldwide.
But it’s not all business. Ho has a strong track record in Singapore public service, serving as chairman of the Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research and as deputy chairman of the Economic Development Board; and is a committed philanthropist with a focus on learning difficulties and healthcare.
As the pandemic kicked off, she not only led active investments in technology and life sciences, with German COVID-19 vaccine developer BioNTech among the most recent additions to Temasek’s portfolio, but through the Temasek Foundation – the firm’s philanthropic arm which supports vulnerable groups close to Ho’s heart, handed out hand sanitiser and face masks.
So, you would be forgiven for thinking that at age 68, Ho might simply relax. But in March 2021, just as she announced her retirement from Temasek, Ho joined the Board of Directors of Wellcome Leap, a US-based non-profit organisation that’s dedicated to accelerating innovations in global health. Not ready to put her firmly grounded feet up yet it seems.