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AVZ Minerals appoints highly experienced mining veteran Dr John Clarke as chairman

The new non-executive chairman has experience operating in Africa as well as public company experience with London and NYSE listed entities.

AVZ Minerals Ltd - AVZ Minerals appoints highly experienced mining veteran Dr John Clarke as chairman
AVZ’s Manono Lithium and Tin Project is moving into the financing and development phase

AVZ Minerals Ltd (ASX:AVZ) has strengthened its board through the appointment of highly experienced mining veteran Dr John Clarke as non-executive chairman.

This appointment, which will be effective on December 2, comes as AVZ moves into the financing and development phase of its world-class Manono Lithium and Tin Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Clarke’s experience operating in Africa combined with his public company experience with London and NYSE listed entities will be of benefit to AVZ as the company evolves into a large-scale lithium producer.

This follows the appointment of Peter Huljich as an independent non-executive director in May 2019.

Appropriate mix

It completes AVZ’s process to assemble the appropriate mix of engineering, project development, financing and public company experience at board level to take the Roche Dure project at Manono into development.

AVZ Minerals managing director Nigel Ferguson said: “The company is incredibly fortunate to have secured the services of John Clarke.”

“Enormous benefit”

The MD said, “His combination of African operational and corporate strategy expertise, as well as public company experience with a London and New York Stock Exchange-listed entity is of enormous benefit to AVZ and we expect this to be looked on most favourably by future financing partners.”

Dr John Clarke.

Clarke started his career 47 years ago as a metallurgist at Goldfield’s Kloof Gold Mine in 1972.

African experience

Most of his career has focused on the operation, development or management of African mining projects and activities, from junior operating roles to the most senior executive and board-level appointments.

His career path highlights a succession of promotions to positions of increasing operational responsibility and a move from mine-facing operations into roles with a strategic or corporate focus, starting with his appointment in 1988 as strategic planning executive at Ashanti Goldfields Company Ltd (AGC).

Development strategy

In this role, Clarke reported to the managing director of AGC and established a Corporate Planning Group to set the future corporate development strategy for AGC.

While at Ashanti, Clarke was involved in managing various corporate head office functions as well as responsibility for the Ashanti Mine Expansion Project.

In 1993, he was made responsible at Ashanti’s head office to liaise with all stakeholders regarding the Initial Public Offering of Ashanti on the London and Ghana Stock Exchanges and in 1994, was appointed to the Board of that company as executive director, responsible for Strategic Planning and Business Development.

Project involvement

In 1997, he was appointed president and CEO of Nevsun Resources, a gold explorer and developer, and during his tenure, Nevsun expanded its activities beyond exploration properties in Ghana and Mali into Eritrea where the Bisha gold mine was discovered and developed.

The Bisha project represented the first large-scale commercial mining discovery in Eritrea.

Most recently, after joining the board of Banro Corporation in 2004 as a non-executive director, he became president and CEO in 2013 until 2018.

Banro was focused on the development of gold projects in eastern DRC and brought the Twangiza and Namoya gold mines into production.

Resources “second to none”

Dr Clarke said: “I am extremely pleased to be able to join and lead the Board of Directors of AVZ Minerals at this time.

“I see my particular breadth of skills and African/DRC focus as an excellent fit for the company.

“The scale and quality of AVZ’s lithium resources at Manono are indisputably second to none globally.

“As chairman, I look forward to working with Nigel and his executive team to turn this outstanding project into a mine, which is a well-trodden path for me based on my previous experience and thereby crystallising enormous potential value for our shareholders.”

Board composition

The AVZ Minerals Board of Directors now comprises six, including four non-executive directors:

  • John Clarke – non-executive chairman;
  • Nigel Ferguson – managing director;
  • Graeme Johnston – technical director;
  • Rhett Brans – non-executive director;
  • Peter Huljich – non-executive director; and
  • Hongliang Chen – non-executive director (Huayou Cobalt nominee).

Ferguson added, “The company now has the appropriately configured board to support its evolution into a large-scale lithium producer.”

Clarke will attend AVZ’s Annual General Meeting to be held on November 29, 2019, in Perth and shareholders are encouraged to attend and meet the incoming MD.

Quick facts: AVZ Minerals Ltd

Price: 0.055 AUD

Market: ASX
Market Cap: $156.12 m

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