Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO) CEO Tom Albanese has stepped down, effective immediately. He has been replaced by the chief executive of the company's iron ore division, Sam Walsh, the company announced.

In the same announcement, the company said it is to take a non-cash impairment charge of roughly $14 billion. The bulk of this is for Alcan, the aluminum producer the firm took on a great deal of debt to acquire in 2007. The charge also includes the writedown of another unsuccessful purchase, a set of coal assets in Mozambique.

The executive who captained the Mozambique acquisition, Doug Ritchie, has also left the company, Rio Tinto said.

linkAlbanese was quoted in the company press release as saying: "While I leave the business in good shape in many respects, I fully recognise that accountability for all aspects of the business rests with the CEO."

Walsh will receive a base salary of $1.9 million, a 15% increase over his previous base pay, according to the company.

Eric Volkman has no position in Rio Tinto. The Motley Fool has no position in Rio Tinto. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.