Follow the leaders: This year’s biggest executive appointments


Keep up with the latest executive movements across the mining sector, including at Fortescue Metals Group, Anglo American, the New South Wales Government, Liontown Resources and Kirkland Lake Gold.

In December, Fortescue Metals Group announced that Elizabeth Gaines stepped down from her role as chief executive officer.

Instead, Gaines will transition into a role as a non-executive director of Fortescue’s board and as the company’s global green hydrogen brand ambassador.

Gaines has been on the board for nine years and pioneered many advancements in autonomy, advance technology and major project developments.

The company has begun the search for her replacement, and Gaines said she had full faith in her successor.

“I know that the successful candidate will be able to build on our excellent operational performance and lead the diversification of Fortescue from a pure-play iron ore producer to a renewable energy and resources company,” Gaines said.


In November, Anglo American named the successor of Mark Cutifani in the role of chief executive officer as Duncan Wanblad.

Wanblad will take up the reins from the date of the company’s annual general meeting (AGM) on April 19 next year.

Anglo American chairman Stuart Chambers welcomed Wanblad and thanked Cutifani for his nine-year contribution.

“Duncan Wanblad is the standout and natural successor to Mark Cutifani, bringing his 30 years of international mining experience and deep understanding of Anglo American, its culture and its context,” Chambers said.

“Mark’s legacy in the areas of safety, the power of engagement, and his vision for a very different and sustainable future for mining enabled through technology, deserve particular recognition.

“The board is enormously grateful to Mark for his unerring commitment and all that he has achieved.

Cutifani will remain employed by Anglo American as he aids in the transition period.

The 63-year-old said his nine years as head of the company had been a great experience.

“There has been no greater privilege for me than leading Anglo American and our incredible people,” Cutifani said.

“Together, we have transformed our competitive position and led the way towards a very different future for mining – a safer, smarter future that delivers enduring value for all our stakeholders.

“I can think of no better leader than Duncan to pick up the baton and pursue the many opportunities that lie ahead for our business.”


In October, following the departure of New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Premier and Trade Minister John Barilaro also called time on his time in politics.

Barilaro became Deputy Premier in November 2016 and later took on the role of Minister for Regional New South Wales, Industry and Trade in April 2019.

He will be replaced as Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional New South Wales by Paul Toole, while Stuart Ayres will take over Barilaro’s role as Minister for Trade and Industry.

“Serving as Deputy Premier of NSW, as Leader of the NSW Nationals and as the Member for Monaro has been the honour and privilege of a lifetime,” Barilaro said.


In May, Liontown Resources chief executive officer and managing director Tony Ottaviano started his role at the company following the announcement on February 11.

Ottaviano is a global mining executive with 30 years’ experience spearheading operations in Australia, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Africa.

Ottavinio has previously held senior executive roles at BHP and Rio Tinto.

Liontown chairman Tim Goyder said the appointment marks a new phase for the company.

“This marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Liontown,” he said.

“We are delighted that Tony is now fully on-board as managing director, and we are very much looking forward to the strong leadership and strategic vision that he brings to the company as we take our Tier 1 lithium asset at Kathleen Valley through to financing and development at a very exciting time of growth and opportunity in the battery metals sector.”

Long-serving Liontown managing director David Richards will transition into the role of technical director.


In March, Kirkland Lake Gold promoted senior vice president technical services, technology and innovation, Natasha Vaz, to the role of chief operating officer.

In this role, she will be responsible for leading and overseeing Kirkland Lake’s mine operations and technical support services.

The company has also promoted senior vice president, corporate affairs, sustainability and legal counsel, Jennifer Wagner to executive vice president corporate affairs and sustainability.

Kirkland Lake chief executive Tony Makuch said the company had a great deal of internal talent.

“(Vaz and Wagner) are very hard working, highly skilled executives who have been in the corporate sector for a long time and are well deserving of increased responsibilities,” he said.

Former president and chief executive of TMAC Resources, Jason Neal, will also be joining Kirkland Lake as executive vice president.

According to Makuch, Neal departed TMAC in February along with the sale of the company.

He was previously an investment banker focussed on the metals and mining sector.

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