People and places

By IM Staff
Published: Friday, 26 May 2017

An overview at people moves in the minerals industry, plus a Q&A with Bold Bataar CEO Rio Tinto Energy & Minerals.

Podium

P&P  
Bold Bataar
Rio Tinto Energy & Minerals
CEO 

What is your strategy for Rio Tinto Energy & Minerals as CEO?

Currently, Rio Tinto mines and refines in 14 countries on five continents across six sectors: borates, coal, iron ore concentrate and pellets, salt, uranium and titanium dioxide (TiO2) (and co-products such as high purity iron, steel, metal powders and zircon). The materials we mine and produce are essential for driving innovation in the sectors which connect the world the most: transportation, communications and technology. And without our products, we wouldn’t have, for example, low cost smart phone technology that is central to the world’s increasing connectivity.

We are stewarding new growth opportunities for Rio Tinto by scanning the world for new smaller-scale investments in commodities and types of orebodies that may benefit from megatrend-driven discontinuities in supply, demand or value chain structure. Being market-led, we will continue to use our in-depth understanding of our industry to create and grow markets for products that will address these mega-trends.

Importantly, as we operate in over 14 countries, with three operations in Africa alone, we will focus on creating partnerships with mutual benefit, contributing to the growth of communities and the prosperity of local people wherever we are operating.

How has your past experience prepared you for this role?

I believe diverse experience is essential to leadership. This diversity can manifest itself in many forms: living and working in different countries, having different educational experiences, working in different roles both within and outside your industry, being exposed to different leadership styles – the list goes on. I also believe that working as an investment banker with the private equity industry enabled me to learn and gain exposure to many different industries, management teams, value creation approaches and continue to stay curious and learn.

What mineral markets do you expect to drive the Energy & Minerals division in the coming years?

The best thing about leading Rio Tinto Energy & Minerals is how relevant – or even essential – the materials we produce are to human progress and future trends. We expect many of our existing products to have positive future outlooks. Things like borates, salt, TiO2 and zircon will likely be all the more in demand as our society advances and we see rising levels of income and consumption growth in developing economies. 

These materials are the building blocks of modern life and will be critical to meeting the challenges of the future. Some of them are quite remarkable. Borates, for example, is used to produce the fertilisers and micronutrients that will help farmers increase crop quality and yield and are also a core ingredient in the glass used for touchscreen phones and LCD TVs.

We also see a big future for lithium with demand growth being supported by the increasing use of rechargeable batteries in electric vehicles and on-going demand in traditional industrial segments. It’s likely to have a material role in the future Energy and Minerals business. We have discovered the largest hard-rock lithium deposit in the world, which could supply a significant proportion of global lithium demand. This project is called Jadar and is located in Serbia. Jadar could be central to a more energy-efficient world and will see Li-B enter the Rio Tinto portfolio for the first time in our history.

How is Rio Tinto Energy & Minerals dealing with the current weak pricing dynamic in the TiO2 feedstock market?

Prices have declined considerably across the TiO2 market which has undeniably impacted the financial strength of many participants in the industry. Despite this weak pricing (and demand) environment, RTIT has been able to operate profitably whilst others in the industry have been making significant losses. Our resilience is built on three pillars: our strategy of aligning production with demand, our relentless efforts to drive unnecessary costs out of the business and our efficiency improvement programs. We have also responded to the market by increasing our sales and technical support to our Chinese customers who are increasingly demanding the higher grade products which we produce.*

What do you do in your spare time?

The thing I enjoy the most during my spare time is spending time with my family. I do also enjoy the occasional fishing trip!

People Moves

Auroch Minerals Limited 

James Bahen has been appointed company secretary, following Matthew Foy’s resignation. 

Bacanora Minerals Ltd.

Andreas Antonius and Junichi Tomono have been appointed as non-executive directors of the company, replacing James Leahy and Kian Morzaria who resigned earlier this year. 

Freeman Technology 

Takashi Nishimura will be product manager of Freeman’s new Japan operation. 

Graphenea

Tom Fedolak has been appointed as business development manager for the US market. 

Hastings Technology Metals 

Kok Hoong Leong has been appointed as project director for the Yangibana Rare Earths Project. 

LiCo Energy Metals Inc.

Francisco Pimentel has been appointed to the Technical Advisory Board of LiCo.

Lynas Corp.

Professor John Humphrey has been appointed as a non-executive director, replacing Jake Klein. 

Morgan Advanced Materials plc 

Jane Aikman has been appointed as a non-executive director with effect from 31 July 2017 to chair the audit committee. Rob Rowley, currently chairing the audit committee, is set to step down on the same date. 

Noront Resources Ltd 

Three new directors have been appointed: Greg Rickford, the former Canadian Minister of Natural Resources, Jean Paul Gladu, President and CEO of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business and Bo Liu, senior manager at Global Resource Development. 

Vanguard Potash Corp.  

Vanguard has appointed five directors to its board: Gagan Goel, EGME chairman & managing director; Punkaj Gupta, joint managing director & group CEO at EGME; Manoj Kumar Palaria, EGME general manager; Dwayne Dahl, director at Gensource; and Mike Ferguson, the President and CEO of Gensource.