Perth-based Blackstone Minerals (ASX: BSX) has revised its management line-up to drive the development of its flagship Ta Khoa project in Vietnam as a mine-to-market business producing downstream nickel products for the lithium-ion battery industry.
The company has appointed former GR Engineering manager Andrew Strickland as head of project development and experienced mine manager Richard Kitchener as general manager operations.
Existing employees Steve Ennor and Vu Hong Cam Van have been promoted to general manager project development and general manager commercial, respectively.
Blackstone managing director Scott Williamson said the new appointments would be an important step in delivering the re-development of the Ta Khoa nickel-copper-platinum group elements project in the coming years.
“Mr Strickland and Mr Kitchener’s skills and expertise will be invaluable as we embark on the next phase of our strategy to service the lithium-ion battery market,” he said.
“We are excited to create optimal solutions for the near and long-term as we develop Ta Khoa into a fully-integrated mine-to-market nickel business.”
Mr Strickland is an experienced project manager and fellow of the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy.
He is a graduate of the University of WA Masters of Business Administration (MBA) program and has undergraduate degrees in chemical engineering and extractive metallurgy from Curtin University and WA School of Mines.
Mr Strickland has a history of developing mining and metals projects across varied commodities and jurisdictions, and is experienced in minerals processing, project management and corporate strategy.
Mr Kitchener’s role will be to lead, plan and execute all operational activity to ensure Ta Khoa’s smooth transition into production.
He has held similar roles with Swan Gold Mining and at Ban Phuc Nickel Mines (Blackstone’s now renamed Ta Khoa project).
Mr Kitchener’s appointment in Vietnam signals a new chapter in the project’s development and will strengthen the expertise of the onsite regional management team.
Earlier this month, Blackstone unveiled a scoping study for the restart of Ta Khoa based on the development of downstream processing infrastructure to support a nickel and cobalt product for Asia’s growing lithium-ion battery industry.
The project would be underpinned by a maiden resource at Ban Phuc, while exploration continues to unlock the geology throughout Ta Khoa’s nickel sulphide district.
Mr Williamson said the study defined a project path which maximises economics, minimises environmental and social impacts, and offers a “lasting legacy” to the local community.