Comet Resources (ASX:CRL) – Matthew O’Kane



The CEO Mindset - Matthew O’Kane is the Managing Director of Comet Resources (ASX:CRL)

Matthew O’Kane is the Managing Director of Comet Resources (ASX:CRL), a junior explorer focussed on advancing their Barraba Copper Project in NSW and the high-grade Springdale Graphite Project in WA to the next stage of development. Comet has a proven track record in delivering value to shareholders through a long running program of various exploration and mining activities. The board and management team are highly experienced with a wide knowledge base that is honed to finding and developing projects.

What’s your journey in becoming a CEO?
It’s been a long one, and one that honestly, I never planned. My original focus entering university was in science-based disciplines, but almost on a whim I changed to business in my second year and never looked back from there. I started a career with Ford Motor Company that eventually took me to the US for 5 years, and then back to Australia. After about 15 years in that industry I was ready for a change when a friend and former colleague of mine, Alex Molyneux, asked me to join him at the Ivanhoe Group working out of Hong Kong on a Mongolian mining project. Over time I moved from senior executive positions, to Board positions as well, and in the last few years have been doing CEO/MD roles within the mining and minerals sector.

Tell us a bit about your business and how you are commercializing?
I joined Comet in November last year, and after an assessment of the existing graphite project decided the company could benefit from adding copper into the portfolio, as they both share end uses in BEV’s and renewable energy. We successfully added in the Barraba Copper project, a very prospective project located in NSW, Australia, early this year, and we are looking forward to getting into an initial drilling program as soon as current travel restrictions allow. In addition to that we are advancing metallurgical test work on core from drilling at the graphite project in Western Australia last year. How we ultimately commercialise those projects depends on the results of ongoing exploration work, so it’s a little hard to say at present.

How are you managing with the current COVID-19 pandemic on both business and personal front?
On a personal front I have been managing okay, although the last two months of semi lockdown in Australia was difficult the longer it went on. The good thing is it appears to be under control here and I am looking forward to the gradual easing of the measures that are now commencing.

For work, it had a large impact on the capital markets of course, which in our case actually required us to revisit the Barraba Copper Project acquisition from both funding and deal angles. Thankfully we have very pragmatic vendors of the project, and we were still able to attract the support required from a funding perspective to make the deal work, but it did require us to be nimble to adjust to the rapidly changing conditions. Now that the deal is closed, Covid-19 is still impacting us as at present the travel restrictions in Australia don’t allow us to proceed with commencement of exploration activities in the field. The day to day non field related work has continued uninterrupted though, as in this day and age you can do a lot working remotely over the internet, but I am really looking forward to getting the physical exploration program going as soon as we can.

What’s the most exciting thing about running your business?
The mining and mineral exploration businesses in general, due to their high risk/reward nature, are naturally exciting. In an exploration company, such as Comet, the excitement comes from finding the right project, then getting it funded for exploration, but the most exciting part is definitely when you discover or expand mineral resources and can start to see the pathway to a future mining project start to materialise and become more certain.

How do you measure success?
Apart from the obvious answers such as share price and/or profits, I tend to measure it against what I think is the best outcome that can be achieved given the current set of external factors that you must manage. Internal factors you can control or at least influence to a large degree. External factors you have to manage and adapt to as they change. Those who adapt the best will have the most success. Sometimes that success may just be making sure your business survives when things are tough so that when they are more favourable you are around to benefit from them.


What do you think is the most important quality of being a CEO of a listed company?
You have to be able to solve problems and deal with change. The world these days is constant in only one way, in that it is always changing, and the rate of change does not seem to be slowing. You need to be able to read the changing business environment you are in and get the best out of any situation. You also need to be able to accept criticism, whether it’s constructive or not, take the positives from it and learn.

What is your favourite book?
That’s a difficult one. I like a lot of books, but for a favourite I will go with a trilogy by Ken Follet about the 20th century called, aptly, the Century Trilogy. Brilliant books about major real historical events with a mixture of fictional and real characters.

What message do you want to send to our readership in Asia?
I would say that post the Covid-19 turmoil there will of course be many economic changes and impacts. One that I think is very high probability is a focus by governments on fiscal projects to stimulate the economies around the world. That tends to be very good for hard commodities, so I would encourage them to consider investments in commodities that are leveraged to these expected fiscal programs, including base metals like copper.

How can people connect with you?

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Barraba Copper Project – Historical Surface Infrastructure From The Gulf Creek Mine In NSW

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