The move aims to consolidate the company's operations in an effort to maximize on economies of scale and the possibilities of further synergies.
As well as Luzenac, Rio Tinto Minerals will also add Rio Tinto Borax, a borate supply and science business and Dampier Salt to the group. The company portfolio already includes Rio Tinto Iron & Titanium which all form the Rio Tinto Industrial Minerals Product Group (RTIM).
"We are building on our resource base to achieve efficiencies of scale, and create a platform for growth," said Andrew Mackenzie, chief executive of RTIM.
The company says it is combining its resources with a particular focus on developing economies where demand for high-quality industrial minerals is rising. It also added that it will aim to preserve brand equity by continuing to market its products under the existing brands - Dampier salt, Luzenac talcs and Twenty Mule Team borates.
The new structure will be implemented progressively throughout 2006. Changes to the executive boards of the various divisions will be implemented from February 2006, but there is expected to be no immediate change to the line up at Luzenac.
With annual sales of USD 380 millions, Luzenac derives its name from a village in the French Pyrenees where its first plant was located to process ore from local talc deposits. The company employs 1,500 people in Europe, North America, Australia and Asia, and supplies 25 per cent of the world talc market, including a number of leading personal care producers.
Last year Luzenac announced that it was extending its business unit organisation model worldwide to include four principal categories. The plans included four new global business units centering on the company's core markets, giving a new grouping that aims to provide enhanced global reach for the company's personal care activities.
Of the four new categories, personal care is now included under the Specialties division, which also takes into account food, ceramics and wastewater treatment. The other divisions include Paintings and Coatings, Paper and Polymers.