Rio Tinto boss Sam Walsh earned A$9.13 million ($10 million) last year as the mining giant posted an annual loss amid a global commodities slump.

Walsh's 2015 pay was about 12 per cent lower than the A$10.4 million he received in 2014, as his base salary increased slightly to A$1.99 million, but short and long-term incentives fell.

Rio, the world's second largest iron ore miner, posted a US$866 million loss in 2015 amid a collapse in iron ore, copper and aluminium prices.

The challenging conditions forced the group to end its generous dividend policy and outline further cuts in capital expenditure and operating costs.


Walsh's short-term incentive payments in 2015 were impacted by four deaths at the company's operations during the year, according to Rio's annual report.

He also received lower long-term incentives because of a lesser number of share awards vesting during the year and the steep decline in Rio's share price.

Despite the decline, Walsh's remuneration dwarfs the US$4.58 million pay rival BHP Billiton's chief executive Andrew Mackenzie received for the 2014/15 financial year.

Rio Tinto's remuneration committee chairman John Varley said a salary freeze for the company's executives and employees would continue in 2016.

"This was a difficult but necessary decision reflecting the exigencies of the commodities cycle, but is no reflection on the performance and contribution of our people," he said.

Rio told employees in January there would be no pay increases in 2016, in view of the tough year ahead. It also asked employees to limit their travel, and flagged further scrutiny over consultancy and contractor spending.

Rio, which has been hunting for savings in the face of a continuing slump in prices, also reduced the number of its global employees to 54,938 last year, from 59,775 in 2014, the annual report revealed.

Employee numbers in the Australia and New Zealand region fell the most, down to 22,988 in 2015, from 24,158 the previous year. The job cuts helped the miner shed US$1.2 billion from its annual wage bill to US$4.7 billion.

Rio said it has standardised geology models and reworked strategic mine planning processes, helping to boost estimated reserves at its NSW and Queensland mines.