IGO stands by incoming CEO, despite Rio Tinto sacking him

IGO operations are in Western Australia. (Image courtesy of IGO.)

Australia’s lithium and nickel producer IGO (ASX: IGO) is standing by its incoming chief executive officer, Ivan Vella, after Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) sacked on Wednesday its former aluminum boss for an alleged breach of confidentiality.

Vella, who spent two decades at Rio Tinto, was already due to leave the mining giant in December. He is set to replace acting CEO Matt Dusci, who took the reins after former top executive Peter Bradford suddenly died last year.

IGO’s board has been under fire over its costly takeover of rival Western Areas, but it was the impending arrival of Vella which sparked a response from chairman Mike Nossal. 

Incoming chief executive officer, Ivan Vella. (Image courtesy of IGO.)

“I need to acknowledge the news overnight which relates to Ivan’s departure from his previous employer,” he said in Thursday’s shareholder meeting.

“The Board is engaging with Ivan to more deeply understand the circumstances … however, it is our expectation that Ivan will start with IGO in early December as planned,” Nossal said.

Shares in the battery metals producer fell 4.3% to A$8.85 each by Thursday’s close as IGO also said it had missed the lower end of production guidance at one of its nickel mines due to a fire at its Nova nickel-copper-cobalt mine’s power plant. 

IGO flagged a material writedown of nearly A$1 billion in the June financial year due to ballooning capital costs at its newly acquired Cosmos nickel project in Western Australia.

Year-to-date the stock has lost almost 33% of its value, leaving the Perth-based miner with a market capitalization of A$6.7 billion ($4.3bn).