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November 21, 2023 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

$10 – $20

We are delighted that RHSV member and historian, Robert Porter, will be delivering a lecture based on his latest book, Rio Tinto in Australia.

Robert’s lecture will discuss Rio Tinto’s formation and the evolution of its main business activities in Australia. A focus of his lecture will be the initial and ongoing connections of the company with Melbourne and Victoria. After a patchy start in Australia, in 1962, Rio Tinto merged with Consolidated Zinc to form Conzinc Riotinto of Australia (CRA). Under the leadership of legendary mining figure, Sir Maurice Mawby, CRA progressed the development of the aluminium industry in Australia, the establishment of Australia’s export iron ore industry based on the Mount Tom Price deposit in the Pilbara, as well as a major copper operation on the island of Bougainville. The early Australian management saw themselves as contributing to Australia’s post-war development and nation building.

The company faced a range of challenges: its interaction with indigenous populations, including the challenges associated with the Bougainville operation which was ultimately closed following violent insurrection and the onset of prolonged civil disturbance. There were strains in the relations between the Melbourne-based Australian management committed to CRA becoming a majority-owned and increasingly independent Australian resources company, and the requirements of the major shareholder in London. The tensions and strains led to the departure on the eve of CRA’s Australianisation of chief executive and chairman, Sir Rod Carnegie, who had been employed at the age of 37 years direct from a career with McKinsey & Co.

Professor Geoffrey Blainey AC described the book as: ‘a revealing history of the post-war mining boom that changed the nation but also an insight into the politics of big business. The book says much that will be new to historians, commentators and leaders of the mining industry.’

Robert’s career was spent working in corporate roles, including within the resources sector. Over the last few years he has concentrated on researching and writing business histories. His most recent book, Rio Tinto in Australia. The Origins and Formation s of an International Resources Company, 1954–1995, conveys the main features of the initial investment and evolution in Australia of the London-based Rio Tinto group, now one of the largest global resource companies. Robert has written four other books, including a biography of Sir Paul Hasluck. He holds a BA (Hons), MSc (Econ) and PhD and is an accredited professional historian with the Professional Historians Association.


This event will be hybrid – both delivered in person at the RHSV’s Drill Hall home and via Zoom. For those booking Zoom tickets, the log-in details will be sent to you 24 hours prior to the event.

From 5:30pm to 6pm, as with most RHSV events, we’ll be serving refreshments before the lecture starts at 6pm.

An automatic confirmation email is sent to you on booking – please check your Spam or Junk Mail in-box as these emails often go astray.


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November 21, 2023
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
$10 – $20
Event Category:


Royal Historical Society of Victoria
03 9326 9288


RHSV Gallery Downstairs
239 A'Beckett St
Melbourne, Victoria 3000 Australia
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03 9326 9288