What does the replacement of the Australian Strategic Materials CEO mean?

Australian Strategic Materials Ltd. (ASX: ASM) has accomplished the execution of a business model first described by Canada’s former Great Western Minerals and then appropriated by the (second) American Molycorp, neither of which could ultimately pull it off – the vertical integration of a critical mineral producer from the mine to the finished mass-produced product ready for end-user product fabrication.

For ASM the first integrated production will be of rare earth metals, titanium, and zirconium, the mineral supply chain for each of them originates with the company’s Australian mining operation, and the final processing to metals is done in a Korean joint venture, already proven at the pilot plant level and with a full-scale plant being contracted for with Hyundai Engineering.

I have no doubts that the entire output of ASM’s Korean operations will be sold into the Korean market. The sister company of Hyundai Engineering, Hyundai Motors, is already mass producing a low-cost battery powered EV, which needs rare earth permanent magnet electric motors made independently of Chinese critical metals.

The Korean nuclear power industry needs zirconium (and its sister metal, hafnium [also to be produced by ASM in Korea]) for the cladding of fuel rods. And the Korean domestic armaments industry needs rare earth permanent magnet motors and titanium for its aircraft and shipbuilding (Korea’s first full-scale aircraft carrier is now being planned).

ASM, having now structured its total supply chain for critical metals, just last week installed a new CEO, its former COO, Rowena Smith, who has almost 30 years of global mining experience in strategic planning and mineral processing with senior mining corporations, including roles at South 32, Rio Tinto, and BHP. Previous CEO David Woodall abruptly stepped down from his roles and left the company.

It’s important at this point to understand the significance of the replacement of now former CEO, David Woodall, by former COO, now CEO, Rowena Smith. Those who plan wars, or even battles, rarely carry them out. During David Woodall’s tenure, the vertical integration of ASM was planned and the component ventures were acquired, modified and themselves integrated. During that time Rowena Smith, as COO, familiarized herself with the plan, helped to implement it, and took over the day-to-day operations of the system as it matured. She has overseen areas of the Dubbo project and the Korean Metals Plant. Last week the board of the company determined that ASM was ready for her operationally-experienced and skilled management to assume overall control, and the management change was implemented.

ASM is now the first non-Chinese company to complete a vertically integrated business model from the mine through to the production of high purity critical metals for the EV, shipbuilding, aerospace, and nuclear industries.

ASM is Australian-owned and sited, and its first customers are in Korea.

The rest of the non-Chinese mining and processing world should look closely at this success and emulate this model.

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2 responses

  1. Tracy Weslosky Avatar
    Tracy Weslosky

    ‘— we are always watching ASM, and have been since 2009 when it was part of ALKANE. This company’s metallization technology is one that I am watching for more updates on Jack. As for Rowena Smith, just finished reviewing some of her work highlights and she has some intriguing experience. How many ways can one spell #ESG? Well done ASM….well done.

  2. Simon Avatar

    Jack clearly has his head in the sand
    ASM initially announced they would set up four metal plants like the one in South Korea by…. guess when? 2024!
    And to be honest the KMP hasnt been able to secure any reasonable metal offtakes as of yet. The KMP is a loss making investment so far….
    So whats happened?

    Other companys should take view? I dont think so; the latest ASM Auditor report signals ASM is in real peril of bankruptcy should it not be able tonsecure future funding

    Has Jack had his head in the sand as the shareprice hit 14 dollars and now has since then lost 90% of that number

    things are not looking good at ASM tbh. Jack it seems needs to get his head out of the sand and see whats happening

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