Board and Management

Gautam Varma

Managing Director

Mr Varma is a veteran of the mining industry having held senior roles at BHP (ASX:BHP), Iluka Resources (ASX: ILU), Xstrata and, most recently as the Chief Representative for Europe, India and South East Asia at Fortescue Metals Group (ASX: FMG). Mr Varma has worked across a number of commodities including those related to decarbonisation and electrification and strongly believes in mining being a “force for good” especially with local communities.

Mr Varma has negotiated and built partnerships around the world and has a deep appreciation for concerns relating to geopolitics and sustainability and the opportunities those concerns present. Mr Varma received an MBA from INSEAD in 2004 and has been a part of the resources industry since then. He has been based in India, USA, France, China, Vietnam, Australia and Singapore.

Brian Talbot

Technical Director

Mr Talbot has over 25 years’ experience in the mining, minerals and chemical processing sector and holds a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering with Honours. Mr Talbot was previously Galaxy Resources Limited’s head of Australian Operations and the technical lead for the development of the evaporation ponds and chemical processing of lithium salts.

Prior to joining Galaxy Mr Talbot was at Bikita Minerals, a lithium mine in Zimbabwe where he achieved increased product yield and capacity. Mr Talbot has also held the positions of mining company director, general manager and metallurgist at various mine operations in Egypt and South Africa with diverse experience in designing, planning and managing profitable mining operations.

Ryan de Franck

Non-Executive Director

Mr de Franck has a broad range of experience across corporate finance, corporate development and company management with a focus on the natural resources sector.

In 2014 he founded Valperlon, a diversified natural resources exploration and project development group. In 2016, having identified the compelling market opportunity, highly favourable natural conditions and unique logistics and infrastructure advantages, he established
North West Solar Salt to pursue the development of the North Onslow Salt Project. From 2011 to 2014 he was a Corporate Finance Executive with Liberum Capital in London and from 2007 to 2010 he was a Corporate Finance Executive with Deloitte in Perth.

He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Western Australia, a Masters in Applied Finance from Financial Securities Institute of Australia and a Graduate Diploma in Mineral Exploration Geoscience from the Western Australian School of Mines.

Jason Bontempo

Non-Executive Director

Mr Bontempo has 22 years’ experience in public company management, corporate advisory, investment banking and public company accounting, since qualifying as a chartered accountant with Ernst & Young. Mr Bontempo has worked primarily serving on the board and the executive management of minerals and resources public companies focusing on advancing, financing and developing mineral resource assets and business development. Mr Bontempo also provides corporate advice services for the financing of resource companies across multiple capital markets and resource asset acquisitions and divestments.

James Barrie

Project Director

Mr Barrie has more than 35 years’ experience in leadership roles for salt, iron ore and other projects with numerous Western Australian engineering and mining companies. He has both commercial and technical experience in salt, energy and renewable product projects. Mr Barrie’s recent roles included Project Director at Worley for Rio Tinto’s $4.5bn Gudai-Darri Phase 2 Iron Ore Project (PFS Stage) and Straits Resources and PTT Asia Pacific Mining’s Project Director for the Yannarie Solar Salt project in the Exmouth Gulf, the world’s largest solar salt field (now being developed by the K+S Group as the Ashburton Solar Salt Project). He also has substantial port development and construction experience including BHP’s Tug harbour at Port Hedland, York Potash’s Port in the UK, Saudi Aramco’s King Salman Shipyard and the Royal Saudi Navy Forces Dockyard Expansion in Jubail.

He holds an MBA from Curtin University, he is a UK Chartered Engineer in mechanical and electrical engineering, and is a qualified project management professional.

Aaron Bertolatti

Company Secretary

Mr Bertolatti is a qualified Chartered Accountant and Company Secretary with over 10 years’ experience in the mining industry and accounting profession. Mr Bertolatti has both local and international experience and provides assistance to a number of resource companies with financial accounting and stock exchange compliance.

Mr Bertolatti has significant experience in the administration of ASX listed companies, corporate governance and corporate finance.