Trent Mell founded First Cobalt in 2017, bringing more than 20 years of international business and operational experience. His mining career includes mine permitting, development and operations with Barrick Gold, Sherritt International, North American Palladium and AuRico Gold. Trent's commercial experience includes M&A, joint ventures, offtake contracts and over $2.6 billion in equity and debt financings. He was also CEO of Falco Resources, owner of the Horne project which has mineral reserves of over 6 million gold equivalent ounces. As President and Head of Mining of PearTree Securities, Trent created a mining team and led the firm to become the largest provider of flow-through capital in Canada, placing more than $300 million in capital in their first year.
Trent holds an EMBA from the Kellogg School of Management and Schulich School of Business, a LL.M from Osgoode Hall as well as a B.A., B.C.L. and LL.B. from McGill University.
Ryan has more than a decade of experience in finance. Previously, he spent five years in operations finance with Inmet Mining Corporation, where he led a project to build the life-of-mine model for Cobre Panama, one of the largest copper development projects in the world. He also led the worldwide annual budgeting and quarterly forecasting processes, oversaw operational financial reporting and analysis, and conducted scenario analysis for strategic decision-making. He then joined Enirgi Group Corporation where he oversaw financial planning, asset modeling and corporate governance. Most recently he was with Primero Mining Corp., initially as Director of Finance and Treasurer and later as Chief Financial Officer, where he was part of the team that negotiated the friendly merger of Primero with First Majestic Silver in 2018. Prior to entering the mining industry, Ryan obtained his Chartered Professional Accountant designation with KPMG LLP.
Mark Trevisiol is a professional engineer with 30 years of experience in mineral processing, mining, capital projects and executive management. He spent over 20 years with Glencore predecessor companies Falconbridge Ltd. and Xstrata Nickel, where he was General Manager of Business Development and Strategy, General Manager of the Sudbury Smelter Business Unit, Manager of Smelter Operations and Superintendent of the Kidd Creek Zinc Plant. More recently, Mark held a number of executive leadership and board positions, including CEO positions at Crowflight Minerals and Silver Bear Resources.
During his career, Mark has had responsibility in mining and mineral processing for teams of up to 300 people, with responsibility for operations, safety & environment, custom feed, engineering, maintenance and technology. He has a demonstrated track record of increasing plant efficiency and margins, notably in treating third party feeds. With Falconbridge Ltd., he championed a new recycling facility primarily designed to handle spent cobalt-based lithium batteries. He has worked across several commodities, including nickel, cobalt, zinc, copper, lithium, gold, and silver.
Mark has an Engineering degree from the University of Waterloo.
Michael Insulan has nearly 20 years of experience across oil and gas, bulk commodities, base and minor metals. He has worked for Royal Dutch Shell, CRU, and Eurasian Resources Group. Over the past four years, Michael has been primarily focused on the cobalt market where he has built a reputation as an industry expert.
As Vice President, Commercial, Michael will have overall responsibility for marketing of the Company’s refined cobalt sulfate production to electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers and battery cell makers. He will also be responsible for marketing recycled cobalt, nickel, lithium and other battery materials produced by First Cobalt's Canadian refinery under a proposed Phase 2 expansion to refine black mass recovered from end-of-life lithium-ion batteries.
Michael holds a PhD in Economics, focused on the extractive industries.
Frank is a geoscientist with over 25 years of experience who has worked around the world on a wide range of base and precious metal ore deposits. His extensive experience in world-class base metal mining camps such as the Kidd Creek (Canada), Mt. Isa (Australia), the Central Lapland Greenstone Belt (Finland), and the African Copperbelt (Zambia-DRC).
Frank started his career with the Ontario Geological Survey before joining Falconbridge Limited where he held various positions in near-mine to regional grassroots exploration and in operating mines in Canada and Australia. He subsequently joined First Quantum Minerals Limited as Principal Geologist, where he was responsible for global exploration project generation and property evaluations for cobalt, copper, nickel and PGE properties. Notably, Frank was part of the team that discovered new resources at the Frontier Mine as well as new copper and cobalt prospects in the DRC.
Frank has a PhD from Carleton University and an MSc from the University of Waterloo.
Peter is a Professional Engineer with 35 years of experience in mining operations, mineral exploration and capital markets. He spent much of his early career in northern Ontario, with more than 10 years working in Sudbury, including with the Ontario Ministry of Labour and an Associate Professorship with Laurentian University teaching Underground Mine Design. His experience as a mine builder brought him to Falconbridge Limited (now Glencore) where he spent over a decade working in senior engineering roles, culminating with Exploration Manager. As Exploration Manager, he was responsible for global exploration activities as well as prospect valuation and risk management. Peter moved into the capital markets in 2006 and earned a reputation as an astute mining analyst, eventually becoming Chairman of Jennings Capital, an independent Canadian broker-dealer. During his career a as an analyst, he developed a reputation for being the first to uncover hidden value – he was the first analyst to cover Probe Mines, Integra Gold, and Trelawney Mines, which was eventually sold to IAMGOLD for $350 million dollars, among other companies he covered. Peter was Chairman of Jennings Capital during their sale to Mackie Research in 2015. Peter has an Engineering degree from Queen’s University.
Regan Watts is a seasoned and entrepreneurial executive with more than 20 years of public and private sector experience in corporate communications, strategy, innovation, and regulatory and corporate affairs. His experience spans various industries including infrastructure, transportation, industrial manufacturing, information technology and financial services.
Mr. Watts has provided services to First Cobalt since 2019 and has been instrumental in helping communicate First Cobalt’s priorities and plans to the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario. In his executive capacity, Mr. Watts will add U.S. corporate and regulatory affairs to his responsibilities. First Cobalt has ambitious plans for its Iron Creek copper-cobalt project in Idaho, which align with President Biden’s US$2 trillion green energy plan.
Prior to working with First Cobalt, Mr. Watts was a member of IBM Canada’s senior leadership group, heading the Innovation, Citizenship and Government Affairs team. Prior to IBM, he served on the Executive Committee of Lafarge Canada, where he led corporate communications, public and regulatory affairs, and corporate social responsibility. Mr. Watts had an extensive career in public service, serving in leadership roles in the Government of Canada across four federal departments. From 2006 to 2012, he served at Finance Canada, Transport Canada, Health Canada, and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. In 2012, Mr. Watts was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his public service to Canada. A published author, Mr. Watts holds an MBA from the Ivey Business School at Western University and is President of consultancy Fratton Park Inc.
Dr. George Puvvada, P.Eng., PMP, PhD, is a highly qualified metallurgist with over 25 years of industrial metallurgical experience. Over his career, Dr. Puvvada built a reputation developing flowsheets for difficult ores and delivered projects for some of the world’s largest mining companies, including Vale, Xstrata and Barrick Gold.
As First Cobalt’s Technical Manager, Dr. Puvvada will be a key member of the senior leadership team tasked with executing on First Cobalt’s refinery expansion and commissioning strategy and qualifying the Company’s cobalt sulfate product for inclusion in Western automaker electric vehicle batteries.
Prior to joining First Cobalt, Dr. Puvvada was employed with Northern Sun Mining, overseeing all aspects of feed evaluation, metallurgical processing, lab supervision and project development. He previously spent several years as a metallurgist at the Peko Mine in Australia, testing, developing and piloting for the recovery of base and precious metals. Dr. Puvvada has also worked with some of the world’s leading metallurgical and engineering firms, including SNC Lavalin, Tetra Tech, Ortech and SGS. Dr. Puvvada holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mineral Processing from Andhra University in India and a PhD in Extractive Metallurgy from the University of New South Wales in Australia.
Vuka is a finance professional with a half decade-plus of experience. Prior to joining First Cobalt, Vuka provided assurance services for small to mid cap companies in mining & metals.
Vuka holds an Accounting degree from the Goodman School of Business at Brock University and obtained his Chartered Professional Accountant Designation with Ernst & Young LLP.
Sabrina Gunness has more than a decade of office management experience in the financial industry. Prior to joining First Cobalt, she held a dual role as an Institutional Trading Desk Sales Assistant and oversaw the daily office administration at Jennings Capital Inc. Sabrina is an experienced Branch Administrator for Retail Boutique Brokerage firms where she was responsible for the daily branch administration and direct supervision of sales assistants and support staff at MacDougall, MacDougall and MacTier and Blackmont Capital Inc.
Sabrina holds a B.Sc (Hons) from The University of Toronto.