New leaders take the reins at Aurelia Metals after shock departure of former CEO

Aurelia Metals ASX AMI new managing director chief operating officer
Five months after the sudden exit of Jim Simpson, Aurelia Metals has named former Stanmore Coal boss Dan Clifford as the new permanent chief executive officer.

Base metal and gold miner Aurelia Metals (ASX: AMI) has announced the permanent appointments of a new chief executive officer and chief operating officer, five months after the shock exit of Jim Simpson.

The New South Wales-focused company today revealed former Stanmore Coal (ASX: SMR) boss Dan Clifford will take the reins as the new chief executive officer and mining director, while Peter Trout has been named chief operating officer.

The pair will take over from Cobb Johnstone, who will step down from his interim role of executive chairman and chief executive officer, and Mike Menzies, who was acting as chief operating officer.

When the new appointments become effective in late November, Mr Johnstone and Mr Menzies will resume their respective roles as non-executive chairman and non-executive director.

Commenting on the appointments, Mr Johnstone said Mr Clifford was the “clear standout” following a global search process that yielded a high calibre pool of candidates.

“His professional background and career achievements to date leave him well placed to deliver for Aurelia and its shareholders over the coming years,” he said.

“Peter [Trout] brings a wealth of underground mining and gold and base metals experience to our business and we look forward to his leadership of our operational activities,” Mr Johnstone added.

Jim Simpson’s sudden exit

Former chief executive officer Jim Simpson’s sudden departure was announced by Aurelia in early May, which stated that he would leave as part of a “leadership transition” but was expected to stay with the company in an advisory capacity until August.

“The Aurelia board has been considering the future profile of the company and optimal leadership requirements for some time,” the company said.

Although according to media reports, a board dispute over how much Aurelia should bid for Glencore’s CSA mine appeared to play a role in Mr Simpson’s exit.

In an April investor call, Mr Simpson had said the company was not interested in buying the mine for US$575 million (A$821 million), which is what rival Aeris Resources had offered.

Soon after, Aurelia issued a statement saying contrary to Mr Simpson’s comments, the CSA mine was a “strategic fit” for the company and talks with Glencore were in progress.

However, a week after Mr Simpson’s announced departure, Aurelia confirmed it was no longer seeking to buy the mine.

In addition, Mr Simpson had reportedly attempted to cleanse the company of directors with links to departed shareholders including Glencore.

One such director associated with the coal company was Mr Menzies, who ended up stepping up into the chief operating officer position on Mr Simpson’s exit.

The new guys

For the past three years, Mr Clifford has been the managing director and chief executive officer of Stanmore.

During this time, the coal company achieved significant growth in output and profitability at its flagship Isaac Plains metallurgical coal mine in Queensland, which has been reflected in the company’s strong share performance.

Mr Clifford has also served as the chief executive officer of Solid Energy New Zealand and held senior technical and operational positions for Glencore, Anglo American and BHP Group (ASX: BHP).

According to today’s market update, Mr Clifford will be paid $710,000 per year for his role, inclusive of superannuation. He is also being incentivised with more than 3 million performance rights, to be issued in two tranches and subject to vesting conditions.

Meanwhile, Mr Trout most recently served as the executive general manager for Asian copper-gold producer PanAust. Previous roles include being the chief executive officer of Caledon Coal, which operates the Cook metallurgical coal mine in Queensland, and senior operational and executive positions with Perilya, Newcrest Mining (ASX: NCM) and Mount Isa Mines.

No information was provided on Mr Trout’s renumeration package.

By early afternoon trade, Aurelia shares were up 17.07% to $0.48.