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Rio Tinto minute book

​The cover of the first minute book of the Rio Tinto mining company.

We are pleased to make the Rio Tinto archives available to view at the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA).

These important documents represent an aspect of global British business – extracting minerals worldwide – which was a key part of Britain’s history and economy from the late Victorian period through the 20th century.

What the Rio Tinto archives contain

The records include:

  • board minutes
  • head office files
  • staff records
  • extensive world-wide photographs, notably of the copper mines at Rio Tinto near Huelva in southern Spain where the company first began mining operations in 1873

The principal businesses included in the archive are predecessors of Rio Tinto plc including:

  • the Rio Tinto Company Ltd, established in 1873 in the City of London
  • the Consolidated Zinc Corporation, founded in 1905 in Australia, with records from the 1930s
  • Pyrites Company Ltd whose records survive from circa 1911

The records very largely predate 1962 (when the Rio Tinto Company and the Consolidated Zinc Corporation merged to form Rio Tinto-Zinc Corporation) and are open to researchers. We have taken in a few records after 1962, where they continue long running series, and permission will be needed from the company to access these.

The records have been listed on various internal Rio Tinto databases, but will need to be catalogued in a highly structured way to fit in with LMA’s other holdings. Incidentally, within the records of the Diocese in Europe, we already hold records of the English Church at the “Minas de Rio Tinto” in Spain. They comprise registers or notes of baptisms, 1951-7, marriages undated and 1950, and death, 1933 (Ms 23639-41), a service register, 1931-58 (Ms 23640), and an offertory account book, 1912-28 (Ms 23640). These will complement staff records within the Rio Tinto archive.

How to access the collection

We will make records available on request by prior appointment during the period between deposit and production of the final catalogue. For updates on catalogued records please see LMA's online catalogues under the collection reference LMA/4543.

Email LMA Enquires or telephone 020 7332 3820 at least two working days in advance and give as many details as possible of your enquiry.

We look forward to welcoming new researchers and those who have previously used the archive at Rio Tinto.


Some businesses hold their own archives and for many years Rio Tinto, a major international mining company, has done just that. However, to ensure the long term preservation of this unique business archive, as well as increasing accessibility for researchers, Rio Tinto has been searching for a suitable external repository for its archive. Initially these discussions were with Guildhall Library and then more recently with London Metropolitan Archives (LMA).  We are very pleased that subsequently Rio Tinto deposited a selection of its most significant records with us in January 2010.

There have been several books written about Rio Tinto which are held at Guildhall Library including David Avery’s company history, 'Not on Queen Victoria’s Birthday'. We hope to obtain a copy for the LMA library soon.

Other mining company archives

We already hold fully catalogued, but underused, records of other mining companies operating abroad, including:

  • the Ashanti Goldfields Corporation Ltd mined gold in the Gold Coast of Africa, now part of Ghana, with records stretching back to 1895 (Ms 14164-)
  • Camp Bird Ltd was established in 1900 to mine gold in Colorado and moved into Mexico, Nicaragua, South Africa, Australia, Nigeria and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) over the course of the 20th century (Ms 22429-)
  • Central Provinces Manganese Ore Company Ltd started extracting manganese in the Central Provinces of India (now part of the modern Indian states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharastra) in 1899 (Ms 15907-)
  • Chinese Engineering & Mining Company Ltd was established in 1900 to mine coal for steamships in the area around Tientsin, China and by the 1920s it was producing ca. 4.5 million tons of coal annually and exporting coal throughout the Far East (Ms 28378-).
14 May 2012
Last Modified:
27 September 2019