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Core Lithium CEO quits as share, battery metal prices keep falling

Perth-based Core Lithium (ASX: CXO) faces a corporate shake up in response to a dramatic drop in lithium spodumene prices that spurred the immediate departures of its CEO and a director.

The company reported on Tuesday an A$167.6 million ($111 million) loss for 2023 as its share price has crumbled in the past year from A$1.20 to 20¢ at the close on Wednesday.

“Despite the sharp drop in lithium prices, we’ve improved production and efficiencies, producing 49,530 tonnes of spodumene concentrate in the latter half of 2023,” outgoing CEO Gareth Manderson said.

Despite halting mining on Jan. 5 at its Finniss lithium operation in Australia’s Northern Territory, the company continues processing existing ore stockpiles to maintain spodumene concentrate production. The focus has shifted towards cash preservation and assessing the viability of its lithium projects, along with exploring the potential in its wholly owned gold, uranium, and base metal assets.

Manderson, a former Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) executive who joined Core in August 2022, has decided to step down as CEO. Under his leadership, the company saw the establishment of a proficient management team and the start of operations at Finniss despite facing such challenges as underperforming open-pit mines and incomplete infrastructure.

His tenure was marked by developing efficient operations and fostering a culture focused on safety, professionalism, and accountability, the company said in a Tuesday release.

Following Manderson’s departure, Doug Warden, the current CFO, will serve as the interim CEO, receiving an additional monthly allowance for his new duties. The company is actively seeking a permanent CEO replacement. In parallel, James Virgo steps in as the interim CFO, bringing extensive financial management experience from his time at Resolute Mining.

Andrea Hall, a non-executive director since April 2023, also resigned, aiming to facilitate a board restructuring that aligns with the company’s future strategy.

Core produced 49,530 tonnes of spodumene concentrate in H2 2023, improving production and efficiencies despite the drop in lithium prices.

Core continues to evaluate its strategic options amidst the challenging market conditions, focusing on sustainability, operational efficiency, and financial stability.

As of October 2023, Finniss held 10.5 million tonnes across three resource categories grading 1.53% lithium oxide for 160,000 tonnes of metal.

At 20¢ per share on Wednesday, Core’s Sydney-listed equity is down 83% over the past 12 months, and it has a market capitalization of A$427.4 million ($283 million).

Source: MINING.COM – Read More