Australian Strategic Materials expands leadership team

June 25, 2021

Australian Strategic Materials Ltd (ASM) has made key leadership appointments in an effort to drive the implementation of the company’s ‘mine to manufacturer’ strategy in the production of critical metals, including rare earths for advanced manufacturing.

Rowena Smith joins ASM as Chief Operating Officer from South32, where she acted as the Chief Sustainability Officer, accountable for the sustainability strategy and business processes, including HSE standards, enterprise risk management systems and climate change.

Smith brings over twenty-eight years of global mining experience and has held various senior roles in strategy, commercial, and operations, including vice president – Supply at South32 and General Manager Kwinana Nickel Refinery, BHP; her early career was spent in operational leadership roles within Rio Tinto’s aluminium smelting business. Smith holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Western Australia (UWA) and is currently the chair of the board for the Women and Infants Research Foundation.

Jason Clifton joins as Chief Financial Office. Prior to this, his most recent poosition was senior vice president – Financial Services, Woodside Energy Limited, responsible for Treasury, Tax, and Finance. Before Woodside, Clifton worked in the banking industry, including roles as Chief Financial Officer of Bankwest and Chief Financial Officer of Westpac New Zealand.

Clifton is a board member at Volunteering WA, holds a Bachelor of Commerce from UWA, is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, a Fellow of the Financial Services Institute of Australia, and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Julie Jones has been brought on as General Counsel, a position in which she is experienced within the mining and manufacturing sectors. Jones has more than eighteen years of legal, commercial, strategic, and corporate governance experience. She is said to have significant experience in the areas of contract, employment, intellectual property, and mining law and has comprehensive knowledge of all aspects of company secretarial matters, including the Corporations Act and Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).

Most recently, Jones was General Counsel and Company Secretary for Matrix Composites and Engineering Ltd. Before this, she held legal roles in the not-for-profit and mining industry.

Frank Moon was appointed to president – Asia. Moon has over twenty-five years of experience in the metal and material industries, working in various global environments. He has been involved in international business development and global marketing and operation, where he held executive roles in South Korea, the UK, Europe, USA, Japan, and China.

Moon is a Chemical Engineer from Sydney, Australia, and, before joining ASM, he was operating as an expatriate in various regions. He has extensive experience working in and with South Korean Corporations and has provided consulting services to ASM for the last eighteen months to assist with the development of the Ziron Tech metallisation process.

Tess Lackovic has joined as Chief Culture Officer. She is a senior people and culture executive with over fifteen years’ experience within globally and locally listed mining, oil and gas, and manufacturing businesses. Holding a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Masters in Commerce, Lackovic has worked extensively in growth markets for organisations that have rapidly scaled their global operations, including Kentz, SNC Lavalin, BHP, BlueScope Steel, and several privately-held businesses.

Lackovic has built and led extensive teams to execute two of the biggest oil and gas – Gorgon and Ichthys – and has executed multiple Greenfield expansions, complex Joint Venture partnerships, system transformations, and mergers & acquisitions in her career.

Peter Simko has been brought on as Chief Information Officer. He has over three decades of experience in the resources, defence, and engineering industries working with companies including Clean TeQ, St Barbara, Tenix, Wiluna Mines, and WMC Resources. His knowledge is said to rest chiefly in technology, business systems, and business transformation, with a focus on business improvement, digital innovation, and project leadership.

Simko is also the founder and chair of a volunteer fundraising organisation called Rock Off MND, an annual live music event that raises funds and awareness for Motor Neurone Disease research. His qualifications include a Master of Business Administration from Deakin University, and he is a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD).

Of these acquisitions, David Woodall, Managing Director, said, “The company is building its capability as it moves towards key decisions on the Dubbo Project in NSW, and the proposed Korean Metals Plant. It’s a great reflection on the direction ASM is heading that we have been able to attract such a high calibre team to drive the business.”

“ASM is at the beginning of an exciting new phase as it moves towards critical decisions on financing, offtake, and equity for its projects. Our new leadership team will execute our vision to become a global, independent, and integrated critical metals producer by 2025.”

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