Key Personnel

Andrew Vickerman – Chairman

Andrew has held a board position with Trafigura since October 2010. He spent almost 20 years with Rio Tinto, one of the world’s leading mining companies, the last ten as a member of the Executive Committee with responsibility for Global Communications and External Relations. An economist by background with a PhD in economics from Cambridge University, he has also worked as a development economist, academic, and economic advisor to governments for the World Bank and other international agencies.

Christopher Gower – CEO

Christopher first joined the board of Direct Nickel Ltd as a non-executive director in 2011 and was appointed CEO in 2016. He has over 25 years’ experience as in-house counsel for a number of international companies specialising in M&A, contract negotiation, project financing and dispute resolution. From 2001 to 2012 he led a team in the implementation of one of the world’s largest environmental remediation projects. He is a qualified solicitor in both England and New South Wales.

Orestes Trifilio – COO

Orestes is a chemical engineer with over 40 years’ experience in the mining and metallurgical industries specifically, the processing of laterite ore. His career began with Falconbridge Dominicana as assistant to the start-up engineer, at their new Falcondo plant in the Dominican Republic. Subsequently, he worked for the Shell/Billiton organisation, as Vice-President of Operations for their Cerromatoso plant in Montelibano, Colombia. He then spent two and a half years as Operations Manager at their ferromanganese operations in South Africa before being appointed Operations General Manager of the Yabulu Nickel/Cobalt refinery in Townsville, Australia, which used the Caron hydrometallurgical process. Since retiring from full-time employment in 2003, Orestes skippered his own catamaran from Perth, Australia to the Caribbean islands between 2004 and 2011. In 2014, he founded Mintech Srl, a mining and metallurgical consulting services company of which he is currently President.

Gerry O’Donohoe – Chief Financial Officer

Gerry is based in London and has over 30 years experience in the finance, investment banking and leasing sectors. Gerry has worked in senior roles at Deloittes,  Lloyds of London,  Nikko Securities, Babcock & Brown and latterly at Ascendos Rail Leasing which was successfully sold to Pamplona Capital Management in 2016. He is a Chartered Accountant and holds an MBA in finance from City, University of London.

Vincent Sweeney – Non-Executive Director & Company Secretary

Vincent is the founding partner at Sydney Capital Partners, an investment banking advisory firm. Vincent spent many years as a senior partner at major accounting firm Deloitte, where he served on the national management team and was their managing partner for both the Audit & Assurance and the Corporate Finance divisions. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce, an MBA and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Jurgen Gnoinski – Process Manager

Jurgen has over 20 years’ experience in the mining industry, having held several senior positions in technical, innovation and project management in Australia, South Africa and Namibia with a strong background in nickel and zinc mineral processing. Most recently, Jurgen has been the Technical Manager at the First Quantum Minerals Ravensthorpe Nickel Operation. Prior to that he was Process Technology Manager at the Ambatovy Nickel/Cobalt Project in Madagascar, a joint venture between Sherritt International, Sumitomo Corporation and Kores. He was the Technical Manager at the Nyrstar Zinc Refinery in Hobart, Tasmania. He has also held various roles with Anglo American plc, including Head: Technology Development Governance and Standards, Technical Manager at Skorpion Zinc and Project Manager for the Gamsberg Project. Jurgen holds MSc, MBA degrees and completed a Masters degree in Intellectual Property Law at the University of Technology Sydney.

Dr Fiona McCarthy – Senior Process Engineer

Dr Fiona McCarthy has a Bachelor of Metallurgical Engineering & a PhD in Process Metallurgy from the University of New South Wales. Fiona’s experience includes several years as a resources industry analyst for AME Mineral Economics, in the role of senior analyst.

Sudeera Withanage – Process Chemist

Sudeera joined the company in March 2020 having been working for us part time since September 2018, assisting our laboratory team. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering – Chemical Engineering (Honours) degree from Curtin University.