Activist company

Company behind Australia’s most advanced vanadium project embroiled in leadership fight amid shareholder activism – pv magazine Australia

Australian mining technology company TNG Limited, which owns the world’s most advanced vanadium project – the Mount Peake project in the Northern Territory, has its management team officially challenged by a campaign of shareholders criticizing setbacks and the slow progress of the project.

Perth-based TNG Limited has found itself at the center of a meticulously planned shareholder campaign to remove its CEO and chairman, saying the company’s management “does not possess the breadth and depth experience needed to thrive and navigate the complexities of licensing projects in the Northern Territory” and has “lost the confidence of the financial markets”.

TNG owns the Mount Peake Vanadium-Titanium-Iron Projectlocated 230 km north of Alice Springs, which aims to produce approximately 6,000 tonnes of vanadium pentoxide per year to be used for vanadium redox flow batteries.

The project is set to become one of the world’s top 10 producers of vanadium, with the mine itself associated with TNG’s proprietary TIVAN technology, which the company says allows it to “overcome the limitations of conventional processing”. It plans to build its processing plant in the Middle Arm Precinct in Darwin.

The project is at an advanced stage, having been granted major project status by the Federal Government in 2021 and finalizing its Front End Engineering Design (FEED) study, carried out by another major shareholder, the German group SMS – one of the largest metallurgical engineering companies in the world. .

What the leadership challenge will mean for the Mount Peake project is, at this point, uncertain.

Leadership Challenge

The shareholder campaign is led by Australian Financial Review columnist and former hedge fund manager Grant Wilson, who on July 20 formally challenged TNG’s board of directors through Section 249D of the Companies Act, which allows major shareholders to force the company to hold a general meeting, in this case to vote on the current management.

TNG responded to the move this morning, urging shareholders to vote against the “removal of three of its four directors.”

The company said handing control of its board to Grant Wilson, who himself is offering to take over as chief executive, alongside Anthony Robinson as proposed chairman, “would disrupt the momentum of TNG and would lead to unknown consequences”.

Grant Wilson owns an 8.82% stake in TNG and is backed by Warren and Marilyn Brown, who own a 6.16% stake in the company.

The Browns also appear to have been behind another campaign by militant shareholders against the company in 2018, which was described by the AFR as “very disruptive”.

The main criticism of the group of shareholders is the slow progress of the project which, in 2015, had promised to start construction in 2018. This “take-off” date has been postponed several times, the shareholder campaign on its site claiming its the management team “failed” to handle the environmental approval outcome in Darwin.

“Significant risks remain in the environmental approval process for integrated mining at the Mount Peake mine site,” he adds. The campaign also criticized the company’s failure to provide a updated capital cost estimate for the Mount Peake project in the second quarter of this year.

Grant Wilson is currently traveling across Australia to hold meetings as part of the ‘roadshow’ campaign – with the final meeting scheduled for this Friday in Perth after rallies in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra.

His decision sparked a flurry of discussion about HotCopper.com‘s among TNG’s minor shareholders, some backing the campaign to oust management, whom they also blame for the “plethora of missed deadlines” and “stuttering progress”.

Meanwhile, others wondered what the drastic change would do at this point in the project and how it would impact offtake deals and partnerships.

Current TNG CEO and managing director Paul Burton, who is at the center of the controversy, also questioned whether a former hedge fund manager would have the experience to run a mining company, according to AFR.

He also pointed out that Wilson, who has publicly described himself as the “proposed chairman of TNG”, has never held any role or acted as an adviser to TNG. “Mr. Wilson does not represent, or has any right to represent, TNG in discussions regarding the Mount Peake Project or TNG’s business,” the company said.

TNG said it would send notice of a general meeting of the company to discuss the matter “no later than August 10, 2022.”

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