LONDON—Former Rio Tinto executive Christina Mills has joined SABMiller as interim communications head after the exit of Nigel Fairbrass earlier this week.

Mills left Rio Tinto last year after seven years as global head of media relations, during which she helped navigate the British-Australian mining giant through a variety of sensitive issues. At SABMiller, she reports to corporate affairs director Catherine May, and remains based in London.

“Christina has a very strong track record as a corporate communicator and comes highly recommended for her work," said May. "I am delighted to welcome her to my leadership team.”

As interim global head of communications and reputation, Mills is expected to be a candidate in the search for Fairbrass' permanent successor. For now, her duties include corporate reputation programmes, media relations, corporate digital media and production of the annual report and accounts.

“I’m excited to be helping to shape communication strategy for such a dynamic and high profile organisation with truly global reach,” said Mills.

Fairbrass is currently on gardening leave after ending his decade-long relationship with SABMiller.