THE Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia (CME) has announced that Ivan Vella, managing director of Port, Rail & Core services – Iron Ore at Rio Tinto, has been elected as CME’s new president.

Mr Vella was appointed at CME’s Annual General Meeting and replaces outgoing president Edgar Basto from BHP, who has served in the role since 2018.

Fiona Hick from Woodside and Mike Erickson from AngloGold Ashanti were endorsed as vice-presidents of CME at the meeting.

CME chief executive, Paul Everingham, welcomed the appointments and said 2020 was proving to be an extremely busy year for CME due to the impact of the coronavirus on member operations.

“I congratulate Ivan on his appointment as CME President and am confident he will continue to provide valuable direction and leadership through the economic recovery phase of COVID-19,” he said.

“For the past few months, CME has worked closely with our members to ensure the sector has been prepared and able to make the necessary changes to our workforce and operations in line with the coronavirus and its associated restrictions governing travel, physical distancing and quarantine.

“Our member companies have had to quickly adapt and dramatically change how they do business in order to protect the safety of employees, their families and the community during this pandemic, as well as ensure their operations keep going wherever possible.

“This has involved a lot of adjustment and much negotiation with Government and service providers, which has proved worthwhile given the major role the sector plays in supporting the Australian economy during this crisis.”

Federal Treasury secretary Dr Steven Kennedy told a parliamentary hearing yesterday that the WA mining sector had put a “floor” on the nation’s economy falling further than it could have during COVID-19.

Mr Everingham thanked outgoing President Edgar Basto for his leadership as CME President for the past two years.

“Despite his heavy workload and responsibilities with BHP, Edgar has always been extremely generous with his time and incredibly supportive of the work CME has carries out with members, and particularly with our Women in Resources Awards and the Pilbara Collaboration initiative,” he said.

Mr Everingham said today’s AGM was held via teleconference, a first for CME in its 119-year history.