IRIS bulks up its exploration, business development muscle
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IRIS is building up its capabilities with the appointment of executive director Chris Connell as head of exploration and Ledger Holdings to lead its North American business development.
Ledger is associated with Levi Mochkin, a founding director of, and one of the driving forces behind Piedmont Lithium’s growth from a sub-$10m explorer to a $1.5bn near-term lithium producer.
Connell will bring his 25 years of experience as a geologist – including the management of exploration and lithium knowledge – to his new role as IRIS Metal’s (ASX:IR1) executive technical director, head of exploration.
“It is a real coup for IRIS that the highly credentialed duo of Ledger Holdings and Chris agreed to deepen and formalise their relationship with the company,” chairman Simon Lill said.
“With IRIS being the only other ASX-listed hard rock lithium explorer in the US following Piedmont, we believe the international experience and contacts of Ledger Holdings will assist the company in achieving its goal of becoming a producer of lithium in the US.
“Chris’ geological knowledge will be instrumental in IRIS’ evolution, and we are proud that he sees the potential in IRIS’ tenure following his years at the billion-plus dollar SolGold plc.”
Ledger has over 30 years’ experience advising companies in the resources sector and has raised in excess of $1 billion for mining projects globally.
Mochkin was a founder of Piedmont and played a key role in its business strategy up till his resignation last year.
As the company’s business development manager, Ledger and Mochkin will assist with its overall lithium strategy in North America, identify potential partners and investors, help structure the terms of any deals and negotiations, and assist with closing commercial arrangements.
“Ledger first became involved with IRIS through its $1 million dollar investment in the IPO. Following the successful listing, Ledger had the opportunity to witness firsthand the dedication and vision of the board,” Mochkin noted.
“Consequently, I was thrilled when the company acquired the South Dakota Project and approached Ledger to become business development manager.”
He added that Ledger had much to add to IRIS in developing a US-based project in a province with abundant historical mineral production, including lithium.
Connell recently spent 4.5 years as the regional exploration manager at SolGold and has extensive lithium experience from his time working on the Mt Marion lithium spodumene deposit in Western Australia.
He has also spent many years managing international teams in culturally and environmentally diverse regions throughout West Africa, Central Africa, Papua New Guinea and Ecuador.
“I have had the opportunity of working with my fellow IRIS board members from the pre-IPO stage. This has given me the opportunity to see first-hand the capabilities and aspirations of the company,” he noted.
“What I have witnessed is a small, dynamic explorer with a large company mindset that moves quickly to avail itself of potential opportunities.”
Connell added that the other reason for his move to take up an executive role was the company’s entry to the battery metals space through the recent acquisition of the South Dakota Project.
The South Dakota project, which comprises the Dewy and Custer sub-projects, covers large areas of fertile lithium-cesium-tantalum (LCT) pegmatites over several historical lithium mines and numerous historical industrial mineral pegmatite mines.
It is located within the Black Hills region that is known for historical lithium mining dating back to 1898 when lithium-bearing spodumene with up to 8% lithium oxide and amblygonite containing up to 10% lithium oxide were first mined near the township of Custer.
This article was developed in collaboration with IRIS Metals, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.