10 May 2023

Rio Tinto bauxite boss Michelle Elvy resigns

| Matt Nicholls
Start the conversation

Rio Tinto’s Weipa boss has resigned with immediate effect.

Michelle Elvy, the general manager of bauxite operations, has finished in her role just 11 months after moving to Weipa.

She was in charge of the Weipa and Gove operations, as well as staff based in Brisbane.

Her resignation comes a week after Rio Tinto released a damning independent report which highlighted the workplace culture of the company.

Cape York Weekly is not suggesting Ms Elvy resigned as a result of the report’s findings.

In response, Rio Tinto has removed the portfolio and returned the role to the original positions, with a separate general manager to be based in both Weipa and Gove.

Shona Markham, currently general manager Bell Bay Aluminium in Tasmania, has accepted the Weipa GM role and will start on February 21.

Dan van der Westhuizen, the chief operating officer of Rio Tinto’s Pacific operations, announced the departure of Ms Elvy in a detailed memo to staff.

“Today, I would like to share with you some changes to the bauxite leadership team and structure,” he wrote.

“Michelle Elvy, General Manager Bauxite Operations, has resigned and will leave the Rio Tinto business, effective today.

“Since joining us in March 2021, Michelle has supported the bauxite team during an unprecedented time responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and in bringing more alignment between the Gove and Weipa operations.

“I want to thank Michelle for her contribution over the past eleven months and wish her well in her future endeavours.

“Considering the important future of the bauxite operations, we know we must keep building on the great safety culture we have.

“We also know there is an opportunity to improve the health of the assets we operate and in doing so, improve the reliability and predictability of the operations for us and our customers.

“We are focused on our vision of becoming the best operator underpinned by being ‘brilliant at the basics’ and the launch of the Rio Tinto Safe Production System (RTSPS) earlier this month. This is very important now and for the successful future of Australian Bauxite operations.

“With all these things considered, we have taken the opportunity to appoint separate and dedicated general managers for both Weipa and Gove.

“All other bauxite leadership roles under the combined structure remain unchanged to ensure ongoing collaboration between the two sites, which is critical for our future success.

“The collaboration across Bauxite remains important and we will continue to grow that.

“As such, I am pleased to share Steven Dunstone, currently Operations Manager at Gove, has accepted the role of General Manager Gove, effective immediately, and Shona Markham, currently General Manager Bell Bay Aluminium, has accepted the role of General Manager Weipa, effective 21 February 2022.

“Many of you will know Steve already, after he joined the Bauxite Leadership Team in March 2021. Over the past 11 months, Steve has been an integral part of our team and played a key role in supporting our integration efforts between Weipa and Gove, with a focus on safe and reliable operations.

“He will continue to work closely with James Low, General Manager Gove Closure, to support community and closure activities on site.

“As General Manager of Bell Bay, Shona has a proven track record in leading operational teams, with a focus on safe and stable operations that positions people at the centre.

“She is also passionate about building lasting relationships with community stakeholders and partners, seeing her well-placed to lead the team at Weipa and support the site’s growth and recovery.

“Tim Ryan, currently Manager Tailings and Water, Weipa, will act as General Manager Weipa to ensure a smooth transition until Shona starts, and Dan Kelleher is appointed Site Senior Executive (SSE) under the Act until Shona settles into Weipa.

“I appreciate these changes can be difficult as we adjust and work through them, but what is most important is we work through them safely and continue to support each other.

“We know a stable asset base will help ensure we can continue to deliver excellent safety performances and fulfil our operational plans, and I look forward to Shona and Steve leading us on this journey.”

Start the conversation

Cape York Weekly

Subscribe to get the latest edition of Cape York Weekly in your inbox each Monday.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Cape York Weekly's terms and conditions and privacy policy.