Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,484 pages of information and 245,913 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Rio Tinto Co

From Graces Guide

Rio Tinto Company, miner and processor of minerals

1873 The Rio Tinto Company was formed in Britain by investors to mine ancient copper workings at Rio Tinto near Huelva in southern Spain.

1884 The Cwmavon works of The English Copper Co was taken over by Rio Tinto Co.[1]

1905 The Zinc Corporation was incorporated to treat zinc-bearing mine waste at Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia.

1906 Rio Tinto Co disposed of the copper section of the Cwmavon company. Rio Tinto Copper Co moved to a new site at the (Port Talbot) Docks.[2]

1924 Sir Auckland Geddes joined the board of the Company

1925 Geddes became chairman. He quickly undertook a detailed inspection and reorganization of the Rio Tinto copper and sulphur mines in Spain, and launched ambitious schemes, including a dynamic acquisitions policy, the formation of exploration subsidiaries, and the reduction of market instability in the pyrites trade through controlled competition with powerful commercial rivals.

The declining demand for pyrites, and political unrest in Spain during the second republic, provided the context for diversification after 1931 which enabled the company to remain solvent during the years of civil war and nationalist rule, in which pyrites supplies were effectively requisitioned for Germany.

1929 Rio Tinto Co was the largest shareholder in Minerals Separation company and placed 2 directors on the board[3].

Investment in the Northern Rhodesian (Zambian) copperbelt sustained the Rio Tinto mines during the 1930s and 1940s.

1933 British Titan Products formed to make titanium dioxide pigments[4]. Jointly owned by ICI, Imperial Smelting Corporation, Goodlass, Wall and Lead Industries and National Lead Co of America. Acquired land from ICI at Billingham to erect a plant.

1939 Zinc Corporation delivered a large part of its zinc concentrates to Imperial Smelting Corporation, a company in which it had a substantial investment[5].

1962 The Rio Tinto-Zinc Corporation was formed by the merger of The Rio Tinto Company and The Consolidated Zinc Corporation. CRA Limited (formerly Conzinc Riotinto of Australia Limited) was formed at the same time by a merger of the Australian interests of The Consolidated Zinc Corporation and The Rio Tinto Company.

1968 Imperial Smelting Corporation was part of Rio Tinto Zinc Corporation.

1968 Acquired Borax Group

1968 Had 85 developed interests in cement, chemicals, oil and gas, and manufactured products for the construction and automotive industries.

1970 A consortium led by Rio Tinto, including BICC and the US company Kaiser, commissioned an aluminium smelter at Anglesey, stimulated by government funding. Rio Tinto had recently acquired Pillar, which had interest in fabricating aluminium, but the total in-house demand plus that of the consortium appeared to be less than the capacity of the new smelter but Rio Tinto emphasised that plans had been made to use the output[6]

1982 RTZ moved towards taking-over Tunnel Holdings which was 40% owned by Thomas W. Ward.[7]

1982 Acquired Thomas W. Ward, an industrial materials group[8]

1985 Strategic review - decision to focus on mining and related activities.

1987 Acquired MK Electric which became part of RTZ's Pillar Group[9]

1988 RTZ, having modernised the Castle Cement business but feeling that growth prospects were low, sold it to a partnership of Aker Norcem and Industri AB Euroc of Sweden[10]

1988 RTZ sold Everest to Caradon

1988 RTZ sold Thomas W. Ward (Roadstone) to RMC Group[11]

1989 Acquired 3 more electrical companies - Duraplug Electricals, Fleetwood Electrics and Tripower Ltd - from London International Group; they became part of RTZ Pillar[12]

1995 RTZ and CRA were unified in December to operate as a single entity; maintained separate shareholder registers in UK and Australia.

1997 The RTZ Corporation became Rio Tinto plc; CRA Limited became Rio Tinto Limited, together known as the Rio Tinto Group.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] Historic Port Talbot
  2. [2] Historic Port Talbot
  3. The Times, 25 April 1929
  4. The Times, 11 May 1933
  5. The Times, 28 June 1939
  6. The Times, Nov 05, 1970
  7. The Engineer 1982/01/28
  8. The Times Feb. 5, 1982
  9. The Times, December 17, 1987
  10. The Times Mar. 4, 1988
  11. The Times June 29, 1988
  12. The Times, January 17, 1989
  • Rio Tinto Website [3]
  • Biography of Auckland Campbell Geddes, ODNB