By Brenton Cordeiro ,Reuters
Iron ore producer African Minerals Ltd. appointed Keith Calder as chief executive, effective immediately, and said it would look at building the company into a more diversified mining company with a focus on West Africa. Shares in the company rose as much as 11 percent and were among the top percentage gainers on the London Stock Exchange. “(West Africa) is mineral-rich. It is an area where we want to take a look and see where we can … diversify the organization,” Calder told Reuters. African Minerals — the largest of West Africa’s emerging iron ore producers that sits on one of the continent’s largest iron ore deposits — said Calder was most recently chief executive of Western Coal.
He earlier held several positions at Rio Tinto PLC, including that of the managing director of some copper projects. Calder declined to specify details on how exactly African Minerals would diversify, but said the company’s main focus would continue to be its flagship Tonkolili project in Sierra Leone, which is projected to produce 20 million tons of iron ore by the end of this year. “Rapidly developing countries such as India and China are demanding key minerals, and those are the ones that we will be focusing on,” the CEO said. “It doesn’t mean that we’re going to lose our focus right now and go chasing after every sparkling rock that’s in the ground.” African Minerals also said Executive Chairman Frank Timis, who had been running the company since May, would become non-executive chairman. “As a result of Keith’s appointment, I am confident his leadership will allow me to take a more hands-off approach to the day to day affairs of the company,” Timis said in a statement. Timis, African Minerals’ largest shareholder, took the reins of the company on an interim basis two months ago when the then CEO Alan Watling said he planned to retire.
“We believe Calder brings the right pedigree of mining project management and public company leadership to help lead African Minerals through the next stages of its development,” Jefferies analyst Seth Rosenfeld said. The news of the new CEO appointment was first reported by the Financial Times.