IGO backs incoming CEO Vella after Rio Tinto exit

27th November 2023 By: Reuters

IGO backs incoming CEO Vella after Rio Tinto exit

Australia's IGO has confirmed that Ivan Vella will head the battery minerals producer this month after he was fired from Rio Tinto last month for a breach of protocol in handling confidential information.

The lithium and nickel producer confirmed Vella will commence as the company's CEO and managing director on December 11.

IGO chose Vella for its top job in June, when both miners agreed to ensure the Rio aluminium boss would stay at his post until year end to ensure a smooth handover at Rio before he started at IGO in December.

Rio, the world's largest iron-ore producer dismissed Vella with immediate effect in November citing a breach of confidential information handling.

"Upon reviewing the full circumstances of this recent situation, the board continues to have confidence in Ivan’s character, integrity and professionalism," said IGO chair, Michael Nossal.

Vella has accepted accountability for the policy breach and based on what is known, no information was compromised as a result of his action, Nossal added in the statement.

Rio Tinto declined to comment further.

“I regret the events that led to my early departure from Rio Tinto but, having been passionately dedicated to Rio Tinto for over 20 years of my life, I can confirm that there was no mal-intent," Vella said in a statement.

"I am now very excited to be joining the IGO team and working together to deliver the full potential of IGO’s purpose."

IGO has faced difficulties since the sudden passing of its previous CEO Peter Bradford in October 2022.

It flagged a material writedown of nearly A$1-billion in the June financial year due to ballooning capital costs at its newly acquired Cosmos nickel operations in Western Australia.

Also, production of lithium hydroxide at its Kwinana refinery joint venture with China’s Tianqi Lithium Corp has been beset by technical difficulties that have delayed production.