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Ring of Fire Metals ushers in new leadership

Former Glencore exploration VP heads up development team to create net-zero James Bay mining operation
Ring of Fire Metals new leadership team (l-r) CFO Annie Sismanian, CEO Kristan Straub with parent company Wyloo Metals CEO Luca Giacovazzi (Supplied)

Glencore Nickel’s former vice-president of exploration is now tasked with bringing the Eagle’s Nest deposit in the Ring of Fire into production.

Kristan Straub has been appointed the new chief of executive officer (CEO) of Ring of Fire Metals, the Canadian subsidiary of Wyloo Metals. He is a member of Henvey Inlet and French River No. 13.

Straub holds a B.Sc in geology from Laurentian University. Straub replaces acting CEO Stephen Flewelling who stays on in an advisory capacity.

Joining him as the mine developer’s new chief financial officer is Annie Sismanian. She replaces Greg Rieveley who is moving on to other opportunities.

The announcement is being made just before the start of the PDAC mining conference, the industry’s biggest convention and trade show which starts this weekend in Toronto.

Ring of Fire Metals (formerly Noront Resources) is the pre-eminent mining player in the James Bay region. The company’s holding 22 of the 26 identified mineral resources in the region and the two most advanced deposits.

Wyloo acquired the former Noront Resources in April 2021 and has been making the gradual transition to new leadership and a name change last year. Stephen Crozier was appointed vice-president of sustainability last August.

Ryan Weston continues as vice president of exploration.

Glenn Nolan, Noront’s former vice-president of government affairs, takes on a new title of vice-president of Indigenous enterprise. Wyloo is providing a budget of $100 million earmarked for Indigenous procurement dedicated toward mine development in Ontario’s Far North.

A March 1 news release said both Straub and Sismanian bring “decades of mining industry experience at a critical time in the company’s history.”

Straub has more than 25 years in mineral exploration, operations and management, most recently on Glencore Nickel’s executive team in heading up the exploration team. Before that he had a run as president of Koniambo Nickel SAS in New Caledonia and as vice-president of Glencore’s Raglan Mine in Nunavik.

He has served on the executive committee of the board of directors for the Mining Association of Canada.

Sismanian,a chartered professional accountant, brings to the table more than 20 years in finance from career stops at PriceWaterhouse Coopers, Kinross Gold, Guyana Goldfields, Hydro One and Barrick Gold, most recently as CFO of Kuya Silver.

“Kristan and Annie join us at a time when developing Canada’s critical nickel resources has never been more important,” said Luca Giacovazzi, CEO of Wyloo Metals, in a statement.

“Kristan’s long career in nickel mining, having led global teams and delivered strong health and safety, exploration, sustainability and operational outcomes, has prepared him well to lead Ring of Fire Metals in this next phase of the company’s growth.

“Annie comes to us with strong experience leading financial performance at a senior level and her contribution will be invaluable as we progress our mine and battery metal production projects,” he said.

“Both Kristan and Annie share the broader team’s passion and commitment to bringing Eagle’s Nest to fruition, and their wealth of experience will stand us in good stead for the path ahead.”

Giacovazzi said the creation of the Indigenous enterprise and sustainability roles reflect the company’s priorities.

“Ring of Fire Metals, and Wyloo Metals, are committed to developing mining projects with the highest standards of environmental responsibility and in genuine partnership with First Nation communities — that’s why you see these priorities reflected in our senior management structure,” Giacovazzi said.

Straub called it “an honour” to take on a leadership role in helming “one of Canada’s premier undeveloped strategic metals projects.”

"I look forward to working collaboratively with First Nations, local communities, the provincial and federal governments, the RoFM leadership team and our partners to realize the development of our projects and place them at the forefront of developing the critical minerals that Canada and the world need to advance the energy transition.”

In a statement, Sismanian said she was anticipating seeing progress on the company’s projects to become a “world leader” in the production of critical minerals need to clean technologies.

“The culture at Ring of Fire Metals and the energy of the team we have here in Canada, backed by the vast mining experience of our Australian colleagues, was what excited me about joining the team,” she said.

The company said Ring of Fire Metals is making plans to partner with Indigenous stakeholders on business and employment opportunities. The vision is to develop Eagle’s Nest as a net-zero emissions mine with a small environmental footprint.

The Eagle's Nest nickel and copper deposit will be the company’s first mine to be developed, ahead of their stable of chromite properties. With an estimated 18-year mine life, Eagle's Nest would produce 20 million tonnes of nickel and copper over that span. The untapped mineral potential in the region could result in mining operations for generations.