Rio Tinto Is Golden

With copper and iron ore demand surging and profits up 43%, to a record $7.4 billion, the mining giant is beefing up R&D and acquisitions

Commodity prices are by nature volatile. No one knows this better than Leigh Clifford, who stepped down as chief executive of the mineral and mining company Rio Tinto on May 1. When Clifford took the reins seven years ago after three decades with the company, prices for copper, iron ore, and other metals were in the dumps. Now they are hovering near record highs. Under Clifford's watch, Rio Tinto moved swiftly to take advantage of exploding demand, especially from China. Indeed, demand for copper and iron ore in the world's fastest-growing economy boosted the mining giant's profits 43% last year, to a record $7.4 billion.

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