Intex CEO quits amid Mindoro setbacks

Erlend Grimstad has stepped down as chief operating officer (CEO) of Intex Resources ASA in the wake of “severe setbacks” suffered by the Norwegian mining firm in its Mindoro project.

“Mr. Grimstad steps down from the position as CEO as of today,” Board of Directors chairman Jan A. Vestrum announced, saying it was a decision made by both Grimstad and the board in January.

Jon Steen Petersen replaced Grimstad as acting CEO while Sven Monrad Jensen assumed the vice president exploration position, Vestrum said.

In its fourth quarter financial report in 2010, Intex said the former BOD scaled down operations in the Philippines after a botched sale of shares of the suspended $2.4-billion Mindoro Nickel Project.

“The previous board’s decision to reduce the group’s activities, particularly in the Philippines, by dismissing most of the senior staff and all technical personnel, selling off the group’s equipment and terminating lease contracts for office premises etc, turned out as a severe setback when the planned Mindoro Nickel sale failed,” the report said.

“Regrettably, these actions have incurred substantial costs and caused significant reputational damage to the group and the Mindoro Nickel Project in the Philippines,” it said.

Last November, Atok-Big Wedge Co., Inc.  filed a civil case against Intex for backing out from a $410 million deal to sell its nickel project in Mindoro. But Intex said that the Ongpin-led mining firm wanted the deal sealed “on the terms previously proposed by Atok which Intex has never accepted.”

Intex said the new board is now focused on “rapid re-establishing of the organisation, securing sufficient capacity and competence for further development of existing and new projects.”

Vestrum said the mining company will focus on strategic and operational development of key projects, particularly the Mindoro Nickel Project, the Maniitsoq Diamonds in Greenland and the Hurdal Molybdenum in Norway.

“These projects are part of the company’s key portfolio, and are seen to represent promising commercial opportunities. To be able to develop these and other new projects, the company is currently in the process of re-hiring necessary geological and administrative competence both in Norway and in the Philippines,” Vestrum said.

In Mindoro, Intex expects to produce 100 million to 120 million tons of ore over a period of 15 to 20 years. The mine’s nickel laterite deposit is believed to be one of the biggest in the world.

The mining project covers 11,216.6 hectares in the towns of Victoria, Pola and Socorro in Oriental Mindoro and Sablayan in Occidental Mindoro.

But its environmental compliance certificate has been indefinitely suspended since November 2009 following an 11-day hunger strike staged in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources head office in Quezon City by members of the religious and indigenous communities and village officials of Mindoro.

Both Oriental and Occidental Mindoro provinces have laws banning large-scale mining.

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