David Richards "was born in 1953 and grew up in the east of England. He trained as an economic geologist at Imperial College in London and subsequently worked for 17 years as a geologist in copper, tin and gold mines in Cornwall (UK), Saudi Arabia and Portugal. In 1990 he began studying for a postgraduate research degree in Environmental Geochemistry as an external student of the University of Liverpool (UK). His thesis was on the biogeochemistry of mercury in a river basin in Portugal and he completed the MPhil in 1995.
"In 1992 David was transferred to the Environmental Affairs Unit of Rio Tinto, and he continued this work, latterly in the corporate HSE department, until the end of 2007. His main areas of responsibility were the development of corporate environmental policies (notably the Biodiversity Strategy, Acid Rock Drainage risk review protocols, and Social and Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines), development of relationships with external organizations and programmes (notably partnerships with conservation NGOs, the Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development project, the ICMM-IUCN Dialogue, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and the Business and Biodiversity Offset Programme), and strategic environmental risk reviews of operating sites and investment projects in 12 countries. He speaks Portuguese and some French."