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Rio Tinto

  • #2 in Mining, energy, oil and gas
  • 50,000 - 100,000 employees
  • Mining, Oil & Gas

What it does: Mines things
Staff stats: 50,000
The good bits: Workplace camaraderie
The not so good bits: Working remotely
Hiring grads with degrees in:  Engineering, Maths, IT & Computer Sciences; Finance, Accounting, Economics & Business Administration; Sciences 

The Rio Tinto story

Despite its name, Rio Tinto Group, commonly known as Rio Tinto or just Rio, grew out of a mine in Andalusia, Spain. To cut a very long story short, for over 5000 years Iberians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Visigoths and Spaniards extracted copper, silver and gold from mines in Huelva, located in western Andalusia.

In 1873 the Spanish government sold off the mines to a multinational consortium, which then launched the Rio Tinto company to exploit them. The company was then owned for a time by the Rothschilds, who scaled it to the point where it became the world’s leading producer of copper. Between WWI and WWII, the company began to expand its geographical footprint, opening mines in Africa.

Frustrated at dealing with Franco, Rio Tinto’s (by then) largely British and French owners began selling off the company’s Huelva mines in the mid-1950s, using the proceeds to fund extensive exploration. In 1962 the company merged with the Australian mining company Consolidated Zinc. More recently, the company has snapped other large mining companies, especially in Australia, Canada and the US. Acquisitions include U.S. Borax, Kennecott Utah Copper, Nerco, Cordero Mining Company, North Limited, Ashton Mining, Alcan and Riversdale Mining.

Currently the third-largest mining company in the world, Rio Tinto now has operations in more than 35 countries. It is divided into the following four operational businesses: Aluminium; Copper and Diamonds (also responsible for gold and silver mining); Energy and Minerals (think coal, uranium, borax, salt and titanium dioxide) and Iron Ore. These four product groups are complemented by the company’s Growth and Innovation group and Commercial group.   

Though Chinalco now has a major stake in it, Rio Tinto remains an Australian-British multinational. It has joint head offices in London and Melbourne and is traded on the London Stock Exchange and Australian Securities Exchange. In 2016, it had revenues of around US$34 billion (A$43 billion).

The culture

The company’s CEO has stressed the importance of making the most of a “broad group of people in order to find solutions to complicated problems”. He has also insisted, “Diversity and inclusion are absolutely essential for Rio Tinto’s future”. The company has a high-powered Diversity and Inclusion Council. It “promotes an inclusive workplace culture and facilitates sharing of best practice across the Group”.

Around 18 per cent of the company’s workforce is female. Rio Tinto is “focused on increasing the representation of women in our business”. It also aspires to “achieving a better balance of nationalities”. The company is trying to create a “workforce [that] is representative of the communities in which we operate” where “leaders come from diverse backgrounds”.

Social contribution

Big mining companies are rarely beloved. But we’d all be living nasty, brutish and short lives without the phones, computers, medical devices, planes and jewellery made from materials miners extract. Plus, the GFC would have been a far grimmer experience for Australians if not for the counteracting effect of the mining boom.

Rio Tinto is an industry leader in minimising the environmental impact of its mining activities. It also has “an absolute commitment to safety” when it comes to the health of its staff, contractors and people in the communities where it operates.

Rio Tinto, conscious of maintaining its social 'partner to operate’, seeks to “share the benefits”. In practice, this means allowing host communities and other stakeholders “to develop their own plans” at which point Rio Tinto sets up “investment funds, trusts and foundations to help them achieve their goals and to deliver long-term benefits”.

The company also seeks to “build the skills of local workforces and work on employment-related programs to help youth, women and Indigenous people benefit from employment and procurement opportunities”.

The recruitment process

Rio Tinto recruits grads with engineering, science or business backgrounds. If you have a degree in any of the following, you should be eligible one of the company’s grad programs.

  • Mining Engineering
  • Process/Chemical Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Civil/Structural Engineering
  • Electrical/Control Systems Engineering
  • Mechatronics Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Geosciences
  • Hydro-geology
  • Surveying
  • Data Science/Computer Science
  • Environmental Science
  • Health, Safety & Environment
  • Commerce and Business
  • Accounting/Finance
  • Human Resources
  • Law
  • Community Relations

To apply for a grad program, you’ll need to go to the careers page on the company website and look for a relevant opportunity. After application, you will follow a recruitment process of online testing, phone/video interviews, an invite to an assessment centre and possibly a site visit for successful graduates.  

Grad programs differ depending on the business area. However, all are “designed to develop our future management and technical leaders”. The program involves a “learning journey”. One that can involve “webinars, self-paced courses, a business game simulation and an idea generation game”. Grads do real work, face real challenges and, where merited, earn real respect and rewards.


Rio Tinto doesn’t publicise grad salaries and they no doubt vary from business area to country. But the company does promise staff “a competitive base salary”. There is a range of allowances, especially for those working in remote areas.

Annual bonuses are commonly distributed to staff, with some graduates roles eligible also. Other benefits include access to a share scheme, salary packaging arrangements, relocation assistance, subsidised health insurance and gym memberships

Career prospects

Along with “adventure” and “genuinely interesting work”, Rio Tinto promises would-be employees a “world of opportunities” featuring “fantastic career opportunities”. They can also look forward to working with “cutting-edge technologies” and learning from “some of the best people in the industry”.

Rio Tinto is a globe-bestriding multinational with hundreds of roles that need to be filled every year, So, you should have plenty of opportunities to develop professionally and climb the career ladder either in Australia or elsewhere.

The vibe of the place

The company describes its culture as “inclusive, exciting and performance-driven”. Grads can look forward to “an environment that welcomes new ideas” and “creates confidence in your ability to learn and achieve”.


From the Employer:

"Our long history is filled with firsts. We’ve developed some of the world’s largest and best quality mines and operations, and our people work in around 35 countries across six continents. We’ve led the industry in partnerships, with customers in new markets, and with local communities. We’ve pioneered technological innovations, such as our Mine of the Future™ programme and our low-CO2 aluminium from hydropower. And we’ve paved the way in areas such as safety, tax transparency and legacy management.

Yet, it’s not just about our past.

We continue to pioneer progress for a better future. Through research and innovation, we’re helping meet the needs of society in a growing and changing world. What we do brings benefits for our people, the communities in which we operate, and beyond.

Our materials are essential to making modern life work. You’ll find them in smartphones, planes, cars, hospitals and throughout your home. Our activities help economies grow and communities prosper.

Aluminium and copper, diamonds, gold and industrial minerals, iron ore, coal and uranium: from microscopic circuit board components to the hull of a supertanker, our materials make up the world around us. We own and operate open pit and underground mines, mills, refineries, smelters and power stations, research and service facilities, to produce them, and use our railways, ports and ships to deliver them to our customers.

And all underpinned by an absolute commitment to safety – for our people, contractors, and the communities in which we operate – and to minimising our environmental impact.

Our exclusive graduate platform provides you with the opportunity to work for a business that’s making a meaningful difference in the way we resource the world; whilst developing the skills of future expert leaders; and creating a legacy that will improve the lives of millions of people globally.

Our Graduate Excellence Path (GEP) gives you a learning platform designed to develop technical experts and future leaders of tomorrow, whilst preparing you for a career with us.

You will have access to a wide selection of learning tools designed to accelerate your growth, including coaching, mentoring, webinars, access to leadership content and collaborative networks.

With a strong focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines, we are looking for graduates who have a desire to learn, progress their careers and believe in becoming the leaders of tomorrow.

Some of the disciplines we offer graduate programmes include:

  • Mechatronics / robotics engineering
  • Mining engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Control systems engineering
  • Geology
  • Hydrology
  • Geotechnical engineering
  • Environmental engineering
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Civil/structural engineering
  • Health & safety"


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