Rio Tinto has reinforced its commitment to the Chinese market, appointing Ian Bauert as its first ever managing director for China.

Bauert will head the company’s 160-strong team of employees in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Rio CEO Tom Albanese said the establishment of the new role emphasises the importance of China to Rio Tinto

Bauert, who set up Rio’s first office in China more than two decades back, will report to Doug Ritchie, the chief executive, energy, who was directly responsible for the company’s activities in China last year.