Solid Energy, the unprofitable state-owned coal miner, has named an Australian mining manager at Glencore Xstrata as its chief executive after a year-long search following the departure of Don Elder.
Dan Clifford, general manager of Glencore's Ulan Complex of coal mines in New South Wales will take up the role in May, said Solid Energy's acting chair Pip Dunphy. The mining engineer has more than 20 years' experience in Australian and South African mines, and had experience in reviving ailing operations, she said.
"Dan has successfully restructured mining operations to be more efficient and economic and leaves behind, at Ulan, a significantly improved health and safety performance across that operation which produces 11 million tonnes of coal a year, with a workforce of about 900 people," she said.
He will take over from Garry Diack, who was named acting CEO after Elder's departure.
Last month, Solid Energy reported a first-half net loss of $40.9 million, an improvement from the loss of $318.2 million a year earlier, when it recognised impairment charges of some $222.7 million.
Under Elder, the company expanded its vision to include converting lignite to diesel, briquettes and fertiliser. Tumbling global prices for coal left the business with too little income for the amount of its debt and it required a government bailout.
Plans to partially privatise the company were abandoned and it has substantially scaled back its operations, selling or shuttering experimental product lines and pursuing coal mining only at its most commercially viable sites.