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A group of dissident shareholders have won a battle to spill the board of Argent Minerals and install well-known mining personality Klaus Eckhof as chairman.

Shareholders backed Oceanic Capital’s push to take down Argent’s (ASX:ARD) non-executive chairman Stephen Gemell and non-executive director Peter Nightingale, with more than 60 per cent of the votes at Wednesday’s annual general meeting cast in favour of the move.

Mr Gemell and Mr Nightingale conceded defeat a day before the meeting, announcing they would step down from their respective positions.

“It is readily apparent that Argent’s shareholders will decisively vote to replace the existing board with Oceanic Capital’s nominees,” Mr Gemell said at the time.

Argent shares have dropped back nearly 40 per cent from the one-year peak of 5.3c reached in late February this year.

ARD shares over the past year. Source: Investing.com
ARD shares over the past year. Source: Investing.com

Mr Eckhof, who is the non-executive chairman of AVZ Minerals and a geologist who has developed several projects globally, was subsequently voted in as non-executive chairman with nearly 80 per cent votes cast in his favour.

AVZ shares are up six-fold in the past six months.

Shareholders had lost confidence in the board over the lack of progress with its flagship Kempfield polymetallic project, making it difficult for Argent to raise cash, Mr Eckhof told Stockhead.

“Just looking at what they did over the last few years, they drilled quite a lot of holes and there was no upgrade on the resource,” he said.

“The incumbent board — it was just basically impossible to raise further funds on it,” he said. “That’s what the discussions were with the major shareholders of Argent. So they needed to have some fresh blood coming in to maybe make it a turnaround story.”

Meanwhile, Tim Hronsky and Emmanuel Correia won seats on the board as non-executive directors.

Mr Honrsky, also a geologist, is on the board of St George Mining and was previously founding director of Emmerson Resources and a non-executive director of A1 Minerals.

Ka-ching ... AVZ Minerals chairman Klaus Eckhof sold down 25m AVZ shares.
Newly installed chairman Klaus Eckhof

Mr Correia is a chartered accountant and was a co-founder of Peloton Capital.

Argent received the call for the removal of Mr Gemell and Mr Nightingale in mid-September, a move that was welcomed by investors, with shares trading 30 per cent higher on the back of the news.

The company originally told shareholders to vote against all of the proposed resolutions at the December 6 meeting, but later changed its mind and told shareholders that Mr Eckhof might be a useful addition to its board.

Argent’s assets lie in the Lachlan Orogen in New South Wales, a richly mineralised geological terrane extending from northern NSW through Victoria and into Tasmania.

The Kempfield polymetallic project currently hosts a resource of 52 million ounces of silver equivalent contained metal.

“My general view at this point in time is that we certainly pursue that one and give it another shot, but if it doesn’t work then at one stage, say mid-next year or so, we might choose a different direction possibly,” Mr Eckhof said.

The company’s share price hit an intraday high of 3.7c on Thursday morning just after market open before retreating back to the previous closing price of 3.2c.