Directors & Management

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Geoff Atkins

Managing Director

Mr Atkins is a Civil Engineer with over 20 years of project and corporate development experience across commercial, industrial, mining and infrastructure sectors with responsibility for driving projects from concept, through feasibility and development to operational assets. Mr Atkins is the current Managing Director of Cheetah. Other recent roles include Corporate Planning Manager at Lynas Corporation where he oversaw development and implementation of the corporate strategic planning process. This included the management and governance of the following capital works and business development programs:

  • Mt Weld Rare Earth Mine and Concentration Plant;
  • Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP): Kuantan, Malaysia;
  • Kangankunde Rare Earth Project: Malawi; and
  • Crown Polymetallic Deposit.

He has also held the position of Group Executive – Operations at Rutila Resources. In this role, he managed corporate and project development activities including the following strategic and execution plans, business cases, feasibility assessments, project management and governance activities:

  • $4B Balla Balla Infrastructure Project: 100Mtpa open access, greenfield port and rail development; and
  • $1B Balla Balla Titano-Magnetite Project.

Tony Hadley

Chief Operating Officer

Mr Hadley is regarded as one of the world’s leading experts in rare earth processing outside of China. He has extensive experience in operations, technical development, project design and management, engineering and commissioning. His project experience has encompassed feasibility studies in three different countries, piloting, construction and commissioning of process plants. Tony has a broad technical knowledge in mineral processing covering comminution, flotation, cracking, leaching and neutralisation of rare earth concentrates, waste water and waste gas treatment, solvent extraction, pressure oxidation, albion oxidation, roasting, cyanide destruction, filtration, drying, gravity and magnetic separation.


Francis Harper LLB (Hons) BEc

Non-Executive Chairman

Mr Harper is a lawyer and has been a director of Blackwood Capital since 2002 and prior to that spent 15 years with NM Rothschild in the US, UK and Australia in M&A and resources finance. Blackwood Capital has raised over $1 billion for small caps since inception. Mr Harper (through Blackwood) financed West African Resources (WAF) and was chairman from 2009 to 2015. Mr Harper is also Non-Executive Chairman of ASX-listed Tietto Minerals Ltd (TIE).


Zane Lewis

Executive Director

Mr Lewis is a principal and joint founder of corporate advisory firm SmallCap Corporate which specialises in corporate advice and compliance administration to ASX listed companies. He is also a fellow of Chartered Secretaries Australia. Mr Lewis is a Non-Executive Director of Tap Oil (ASX:TAP), Lion Energy Limited (ASX:LIO), Kingsland Global (ASX:KLO) and 8VIC Holdings Limited (ASX:8VIC). Zane provides the Board with a wealth of knowledge obtained from his diverse financial and corporate experience in previous appointments.


Phillip Coulson

Interim Chairman

Mr Coulson has over 18 years corporate advisory experience, having held senior advisory positions at Montagu Stockbrokers and Patersons Securities Limited. He has promoted and advised numerous companies in the identification and acquisition of technology and resource projects. Currently a private investor and corporate consultant, he holds debt and equity positions in a number of public and private companies. Most recently, Mr Coulson facilitated the reverse takeover of ResApp Diagnostics Pty Ltd by Narhex Life Sciences Limited (ASX: RAP) and facilitated the reverse takeover of Alcidion Group Limited into Naracoota Resources Limited (ASX: ALC). Phil holds a Bachelor of Economics from UWA (1993).


Evan Cranston

Non-Executive Chair

Mr Cranston is an experienced mining executive with a background in corporate and mining law. He is the principal of corporate advisory and administration firm Konkera Corporate and has extensive experience in the areas of equity capital markets, corporate finance, structuring, asset acquisition, corporate governance and external stakeholder relations. He holds both a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws from the University of Western Australia.


Sebastian Andre

Company Secretary

Sebastian is an experienced company secretary with significant insight into compliance frameworks. He spent 8 years at the ASX facilitating the listing and compliance of companies. Sebastian provides a comprehensive range of company secretarial services to both unlisted and ASX listed entities, managing all levels of company secretarial duties including matters relating to ASX Listing Rules, Corporations Act, industry practice and corporate governance. His knowledge and experience ensure a solid base to make a valued contribution to the Board of Vital Metals.


Mathew Edler

General Manager

Mr Edler is a geologist with over 30 years of resource development experience in Africa and the Americas. He is a consultant in the management of Feasibility Studies and managing the early development of projects centered on non-precious and industrial minerals.


Louisa Martino

Chief Financial Officer

Ms Martino has provided company secretarial and accounting services for eight years to a number of listed entities.

  • Previously she worked for a corporate finance company, assisting with company compliance (ASIC and ASX) and capital raising.
  • She also has experience working for a government organisation in its Business Development division where she performed reviews of business opportunities and prepared business case analysis for those seeking Government funding.
  • Prior to that, Ms Martino worked for a major accounting firm in Perth, London and Sydney where she provided corporate advisory services and performed due diligence reviews.
  • She has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Western Australia, is a member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and a member of the Financial Services Institute of Australasia (FINSIA).

Darren Sutton

Processing Manager

Darren is a Chemical Engineer with over 30 years of experience in Process Development, Process Plant Design, Engineering and Commissioning. Darren has a broad technical knowledge in Pyrometallurgy and Hydrometallurgy in Base Metals, Ironmaking and Rare Earths Extraction. For Cheetah Resources, Darren has been leading the development of the ore sorting process for the Cheetah Resources Nechalacho Rare Earth Demonstration Plant in NWT, Canada as well as development of the Rare Earth extraction process to produce a final rare earth product. Previous roles include:

  • Lynas Corporation – Technical Development in both Beneficiation and Downstream processing for Mt Weld, Malaysian LAMP and Kangankunde, Malawi
  • Hastings Technology Metals – Principal Process Engineer – Hydrometallurgy for development of the Yangibana project
  • Direct Nickel – Process Engineer and Project Manager for development of a 1 tonne per day Test Plant followed by management of the operations.

Derek Bolling

Chief Financial Officer

Mr Bolling has over 20 year experience as a financial controller, chief financial officer and accountant in a wide range of ASX-listed, public unlisteed and private companies. He has experience in the implementation and operation of large scale financial systems, financial management of resource projects, contract negotiation and change management of the finance function. Mr Bolling is currently a consultant in accounting and financial management to start-up companies in the biomedical and renewable energy fields. and is company secretary of one private equity-backed medical technology company.


David Connelly

Government and Corporate Affairs

Mr. Connelly has over 45 years of senior project finance, strategic planning, project development, logistics and community, Indigenous and government relations experience, initially internationally and for the last 27 years based in Northern Canada.

David is the owner of Ile Royale Enterprises Ltd., chair, board member, and strategic planner and engagement consultant to Aboriginal, mineral, energy and cleantech businesses. As an investor and advocate for responsible economic development, David lead turnarounds and structured many successful strategic alliances. He helped pioneer groundbreaking alliances and impact benefits agreements.

Recognized by the sovereigns of Canada, England, Sweden, and Spain for governance, leadership, volunteer and philanthropic work he serves or has served on over two dozen public company, private company, Indigenous development corporation, not-for-profit, quasi-judicial and government boards. The NWT Government appointed him a founding member of the Yellowknife Airport Economic Advisory Council in 2017 and the NWT Business Development Investment Corporation in July 2019. He serves on the Mayor of Yellowknife’s Economic Development Task Force and the City’s University Post-Secondary Advisory Committee, Quantiam Technology Inc. and several national boards. As a Naval Reserve Officer he advised the Commander Joint Task Force North on Indigenous and Northern affairs for 26 years.

As President and CEO from 1992-1997, he led the turnaround of Canada’s largest Indigenous development corporation. In 2000, he co-authored the “Five Year Review of The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement 1993 -1998”.


Brendan Shand

Geology Manager

Mr Shand is a geologist with 35 years of experience in the mining industry in a number of different commodities in different parts of the world. Mr Shand has a wealth of experience in mine geology and has been instrumental in starting up a number of mines in different parts of the world. In the latter part of his career Mr Shand has become a leading expert on the development of rare earth projects. He worked for Lynas Corporation for 8 years initially as the Registered Manager/Senior Geologist at the Mt Weld Rare Earth Project and later on as the Chief Geologist. Mr Shand was initially responsible for managing the mining and geology at the Mt Weld Project and then later on spent most of his time with Lynas Corporation as the Chief Geologist responsible for all geological projects. The projects Mr Shand had responsibility for included:

  • The expansion of the Mt Weld light rare earth mineral resources and ore reserves resulting in a threefold increase in the mine life for the Mt Weld light rare earth project.
  • The development of a large mineral resource and ore reserve for the Mt Weld heavy rare earth project that will shortly be developed to supply the US military with heavy rare earths.
  • Resource development at the Kangankunde Rare Earth Project in Malawi.