Mining company Rio Tinto has appointed Greg Lilleyman as group executive of technology and innovation (T&I).

From January 1, Lilleyman will take over from Preston Chiaro, who will retire at the end of March 2014. Chiaro, who joined Rio Tinto as a technical services vice president in 1991, had been in the technology and innovation role since 2009.

Lilleyman, a mining engineer by profession, has been with Rio Tinto for 23 years, mainly with the iron ore business in Australia and Canada. As president of Pilbara operations, he oversaw the development of a number of technology driven improvements, including autonomous trucks, drills and trains. He has been head of productivity improvement in T&I since August 2013.

Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh said: “Under Preston’s leadership, our industry-leading T&I group has developed and delivered numerous innovations, including the growth of our ground-breaking Mine of the Future programme, which have created sustainable value for our shareholders by ensuring Rio Tinto has a competitive advantage in the way we operate.

He added: “Lilleyman’s task will be to ensure that Rio Tinto remains at the forefront of developing and deploying sector leading technologies that change the way we look at mineral deposits, make our operations safer, help us manage costs and respond to environmental imperatives.”