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Former WesTrac chief to chair Australian Potash

ASX listed potash player Australian Potash has appointed former WesTrac Managing Director and well known Perth businessman Jim Walker, as its Non-Executive Chairman to help develop marketing and financing relationships.

As part of the board expansion, former Executive Chairman Matt Shackleton has been appointed the company’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer.

Mr Walker has decades of experience in the resources industry and was best known for his role running giant Caterpillar equipment dealer WesTrac during its expansion across Australia and into northeast China, prior to his retirement in 2013.

He also served as the Executive Chairman of Macmahon Holdings from January 2015 to July 2015 while the mining services company searched for a replacement Chief Executive Officer.

Mr Walker is currently the Non-Executive Chairman of Macmahon, Austin Engineering, Wesley College and the State Training Board.

Australian Potash Managing Director Mr Shackleton said: “Our Company has reached an important stage in the development of the Lake Wells SOP Project and it is now appropriate for the roles of Chair and Managing Director to be separated.”

“I am also looking forward to dedicating my energy towards the finalisation of the Definitive Feasibility Study and the development of Lake Wells. We have a detailed ‘road-map’ of what we have to do across the four major work streams to get to where we need to be.”

The Lake Wells project is located 180km northeast of Laverton in Western Australia’s Goldfields region and is expected to produce 150,000 tonnes of premium potash per annum for the first 5 years and 300,000 tpa for the following 15 years in a two stage capex strategy.

A lower level Scoping Study announced to the ASX early in 2017 also estimated that Stage 1 is expected to generate $61m per annum in pre-tax cashflow for the first 5 years with a payback of the A$175m capital in just under 3 years at an assumed sales price of $795 per tonne of potash.

Pre-tax cashflow is projected to jump to $137m per annum for the remaining 15 year life of mine with a pay-back of the stage 2 capital of A$163m in under 2 years.

The scoping study predicts a pre-tax NPV of $500m and a pre-tax IRR of 33% for Lake Wells, though these results are yet to be confirmed by a more robust analysis and the provision of finance.

The company is planning to report the results of its DFS in 2019.

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