Rio Tinto chief executive Tom Albanese has left the firm after the company announced a $14 billion (£8.7) billion writedown.
Albanese's position became untenable after the mining giant admitted to major impairments in its Rio Tinto Alcan aluminium business and its Mozambique coal mining arm.
He will be replaced by Sam Walsh, chief executive of the firm's iron ore business, with immediate effect.
Doug Ritchie, who led the acquisition and integration of the Mozambique coal assets in his previous role as Energy chief executive, has also stepped down by mutual agreement.
At 9am Shares in Rio were 2.6% weaker at £33.67 in response to the news.
'We are also deeply disappointed to have to take a further substantial writedown in our aluminium businesses, albeit in an industry that continues to experience significant adverse changes globally.'
Albanese added: 'While I leave the business in good shape in many respects, I fully recognise that accountability for all aspects of the business rests with the CEO. I am pleased that someone of Sam's calibre and values has been chosen to succeed me as chief executive. This is a great company and Sam will do an outstanding job."