Speaker biographies

Day 1 – 18 May

Opening keynote speech

Keynote speech: Joseph Ikoli Yombo Y’Apeke, DRC Secretary General of Mines & President of Cistema

Joseph Ikoli is the Secretary General of Mines & President of Cistema in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Session 1: Cobalt Market Review and Impact of Covid19

Ying Lu, Senior Market Analyst, Roskill

Ying joined Roskill in 2018 and focuses on cobalt and nickel research.

Ying has been instrumental to Roskill’s analysis for these markets and is the lead author of Roskill’s annual cobalt and nickel sulphate reports.

Ying graduated from Cass Business School, London, with a MSc in Energy, Trade and Finance. In her distinction-awarded thesis, Ying explored cobalt supply risk and its impacts on the EV battery industry. Prior to joining Roskill, Ying worked for a leading cobalt refinery based in China, where she was responsible for procurement and business strategy. Ying’s commercial exposure to cobalt and nickel raw materials has translated into industry knowledge as well as business acumen to identify trends in these markets. Ying is a regular speaker at international conferences, presenting Roskill’s independent research on battery raw materials.

Caspar Rawles, Head of Price Assessments, Benchmark Minerals

Caspar is Head of Price Assessments at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.

David Brocas, Head Cobalt Trader, Glencore

David Brocas is Chair of the Cobalt Institute’s Executive Committee and Head Cobalt Trader at Glencore.

Prof. Xu Aidong, Chief Engineer of Beijing Antaike Information Co., Ltd., Secretary General of China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association (CNIA)-Cobalt Branch, Deputy Secretary General of CNIA-Nickel Branch

Ms. Xu Aidong, principal analyst of Antaike, Secretary General of CNIA Cobalt Branch, Expert of China Development Bank, graduated from the University of Science and Technology Beijing with a masters degree in 1993 and then started her career at Antaike until now. She has been engaged in the work of nonferrous metal products quotations, market forecast & information consulting, enterprises and industry development strategy research. From 1999 she has been responsible for the organizing of China International Nickel and Cobalt Conference and other large scale conferences. Ms. Xu took part in some research projects such as Thinking of China Nickel and Cobalt Industry Development in 2000. The research project of Technical Guidance to Nd-Fe -B Permanent Magnetic Materials and Lamp-use Rare Earth Triphosphor Fluorescent Powder Export was rewarded with the third prize of China Nonferrous Metals Industry Sciences and Technology Advance. Ms. Xu has published research papers on international conferences organized by International Nickel Study Group and Cobalt Development Organization, on USA-China Nickel Outlook Conference, and on Nonferrous metals professional journals.

Gregor Spilker, Director Metals/Energy Research & Product Development, CME

Gregor works in metals research and product development at CME Group. He has been at CME Group since 2015, covering a wide range of product launches and initiatives. Prior to CME Group, Gregor worked at Commerzbank London in commodity derivatives structuring and at EDF Energy in power markets.

Vikki Roberts, Head of Supply Chain Strategy – Battery Materials, Johnson Matthey

Vikki Roberts leads Johnson Matthey Battery Materials Supply Chain Strategy team focusing on overcoming the challenges in the Cobalt, Lithium & Nickel markets. Establishing an ecosystem of supply partnerships, while engaging with the industry through the Cobalt Institute and ERMA.

Lunch Talk: Cobalt Market in 2021 and Beyond

Harry Fisher, Senior Cobalt Consultant, CRU

Harry joined CRU Consulting in 2015 and has worked on a variety of commodity types, including: steel, iron ore, coal, base and battery metals. Harry relocated to Sydney from London in 2018 and is now in charge of non-ferrous consulting in Australia and leads projects across APAC.

Harry has a background in geology and mining and manages projects across commodity groups in CRU Consulting, involving strategic advice, market due diligence, analysis and primary research. He has broad international experience in supporting our clients with their business needs. His recent work includes: lithium chemical cost modelling for the due diligence of a hydroxide processing project; South American market assessment of Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS); Real Options analysis of a major copper development project; investment strategy advice; detailed & novel analysis of the graphite electrode market; and legal pricing dispute resolution for major iron ore producers.

Prior to joining CRU, he completed internships as a Minerals Processing Researcher at the University of Cape Town and as an Exploration Geologist with Rio Tinto on a greenfield copper exploration project in Namibia.

During his time at CRU, Harry has worked at CRU’s London, Sydney, Santiago and Beijing offices to develop his knowledge of the regional commodity markets. Harry is now based full time in our Sydney office.

Harry graduated from the Royal School of Mines, Imperial College London with an MSci in Geology.

Session 2: Cobalt Supply

Honourable Mark Brown, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands – Development of Seabed Resources

The Hon Mark Brown has been the Prime Minister of Cook Islands since 2020. He has served as Deputy Prime Minister since 2018, and has been Finance minister since 2010, when he was first elected to Parliament.

Stefan Horn, PhD Student, British Geological Survey - Cobalt Reserves and Resources

Stefan Horn completed his bachelors and masters’ degrees in Georesources management at RWTH Aachen University in Germany and since September 2018, is working towards his PhD on “Europe’s cobalt resource potential for supply to low-carbon vehicles”. Stefan’s research is a joint project of The British Geological Survey (BGS), University of Exeter and The Cobalt Institute and he is based at the BGS offices in Keyworth.

William Adams, Head of Base Metals & Battery Research, Fastmarkets

William has been involved in the metals markets since 1986, he runs the research for Fastmarkets battery metals and oversees base and precious metals research. Fastmarkets as a Price Reporting Agency (PRA) provides price discovery on the battery raw materials and Fastmarkets Research aims to provide a clear and focused understanding of the metals markets. Prior to working for Fastmarkets, William worked with Rudolf Wolff & Co Ltd, which was one of the founding members of the London Metal Exchange, where he gained broad insight into all aspects of the metals markets, working in their London, New York and Tokyo offices.

Benedikt Sobotka, Group CEO, Eurasian Resources Group

Benedikt Sobotka is the CEO of Eurasian Resources Group (ERG), a leading producer of natural resources that employs 75,000 people. Mr Sobotka was born in Germany and has extensive experience in advisory/management roles in the mining and energy sectors. At BCG, he advised leading companies and held various management positions. Benedikt founded Minerals Values Service (MVS), among other high-tech startups, which was sold to Platts/Dow Jones in 2015. He holds a degree in management, studied in Europe, Russia and China and co-authored "China Champions", a Financial Times publication. He is particularly interested in international, CIS and East Asian geopolitical relations. Benedikt is the co-chair of the Global Battery Alliance, a multistakeholder initiative which ERG helped found, aimed at achieving a responsible battery supply chain. Mr Sobotka is the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, where ERG is headquartered, and has presided over a range of cultural events, celebrating and strengthening the relationship between the two countries.

Trent Mell, CEO & President First Cobalt

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.

Assheton Carter, Founder & CEO, TDI Sustainability

Dr. Carter is senior advisor to C-Suites on sustainability, compliance, standards and mineral supply chains. He is a pioneering consultant on responsible sourcing, corporate sustainability, non-financial risk, and responsible investment in international and emerging markets. He has been at the forefront of the CSR movement for more than 25 years with a focus on international supply chains in the mining, jewellery, luxury, auto and electronics industries.

He is CEO of TDI Sustainability, an advisory firm to Fortune 100 companies in Europe and the USA, and to natural resource companies in Africa, Asia and Latin America. He is the founder and board chair of the Impact Facility for Sustainable Mining Communities, an impact investment vehicle with a mission to empower rural communities through the building of viable responsible small and medium sized enterprises and artisanal mining operations in Africa and Central and South America.

Assheton has launched and led a number of ground-breaking initiatives with international corporations, and structured numerous innovative sustainable supply chains, including the first fully traceable gold and diamond jewellery for the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart and developed the only tracking system for "conflict-free" metals from the DRC used by electronics manufacturers in Europe and the United States, and the Fair Cobalt Alliance.

He has published over 20 book chapters and articles and holds a Ph. D from the Business School of the University of Bath in the management or risk and in international gold and luxury supply chains.

Colin Hamilton, Managing Director – Commodities Research. BMO Capital Markets

Colin Hamilton is a Managing Director and Commodities Analyst for BMO Capital Markets. Based in London, he leads BMO’s market intelligence and price forecasting efforts across base metals, bulk commodities, precious metals and battery raw materials. With a background as a metallurgist, and a strong focus on China and global trade flows, and deep subject knowledge, Colin’s regular publications offer value-added insight on industry developments. Previously he headed up Macquarie’s commodities research team, and before that spent time at CRU in London where he was responsible for steelmaking, iron ore and metallurgical coal cost services.

Responsible Sourcing Afternoon

Keynote speech: Jean-Dominique Takis, CEO, L'Entreprise Générale du Cobalt

Jean-Dominique Takis is the CEO of the Entreprise Générale du Cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Session 3: ASM Contribution to Sustainable Development

Benjamin Katz, Policy Analyst, OECD

Benjamin Katz has been a policy analyst for responsible mineral supply chains at the OECD's Centre for Responsible Business Conduct since early 2019.

Luc Lenge Asosa, Program Director, Pact DRC

Luc Lenge Asosa is an expert in ASM and Director of Pact's Programmes in the DRC. Originally a university teacher/researcher, he has now worked in the development world for over 18 years. He has extensive experience as a project manager and has acquired over the years very specific skills in starting and managing projects in very complex contexts. Through fieldwork, he has developed particular skills in institutional and organisational capacity building of actors in the artisanal mining sector (state institutions, mining cooperatives, etc.). He has managed several projects and taken an active part in the implementation of several projects related to governance, conflict resolution, mineral traceability and Due Diligence in mineral supply chains from conflict or high-risk areas, taxation related to the ASM sector, socio-economic reintegration of artisanal miners, especially women, the fight against child labour in the mines, etc. He has participated and/or coordinated several surveys and research in collaboration with other organisations and agencies such as the World Bank, the UN/ILO, the University of Lubumbashi and its School of Criminology, CASM/World Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), local NGOs and state institutions. He has worked on several social development and capacity building programmes for local communities (rural but also around and in the mining areas), state institutions (former SAESSCAM now SAEMAPE) or local organisations (local NGOs/Civil Society, Cooperatives). He has held several positions as project manager in Katanga, South Kivu, Maniema and Kinshasa in DRC. He has also assisted, trained and shared experiences with Pact teams in other countries such as Nigeria, Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Mozambique, Madagascar, Thailand, Zimbabwe, USA etc. in the framework of the Mines to Market programme. He is very fluent in Swahili, Lingala, French and moderately fluent in English.

Since 2016, he has been very involved in the development of Pact's activities related to the establishment of responsible cobalt supply chains in the former Greater Katanga (notably in the current Lualaba Province), the promotion of good working conditions in artisanal mining, including hygiene, health and safety issues, the promotion of socio-economic reintegration alternatives for vulnerable households, and advocacy for the creation of viable artisanal mining zones

James Nicholson, Head of Corporate Responsibility, Trafigura

James is Head of Corporate Responsibility at Trafigura, having joined the company in 2010 to help establish a Corporate Affairs team.

Trafigura is one of the leading physical commodity trading groups in the world, with revenues of USD147 billion in 2020.

Responsible for driving Trafigura’s responsibility and stakeholder engagement agenda worldwide, James’ focus has included developing the company’s leadership position on transparency and responsible sourcing.

In 2014, Trafigura became the first independent commodity trading company to publicly support the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and go on to disclose its substantial payments to governments in EITI implementing countries. The standard set by Trafigura latterly formed the basis of an industry reporting norm. In 2019, James was appointed to the International Board of the EITI.

James leads Trafigura’s efforts in pursuit of the responsible sourcing and supply of metals and minerals. Of note in this respect has been James’ initiation and oversight of the ‘Mutoshi Pilot Project’ - a leading effort by government authorities, Trafigura and the NGO ‘Pact’ to support the responsible sourcing of cobalt from semi-mechanised mining operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Prior to Trafigura, James worked at the De Beers Group for over 9 years.

Anne-Marie Fleury, Sustainability and Product Stewardship Specialist, Glencore Copper

Anne-Marie has over 20 years experience on sustainability and mineral supply chains covering issues from biodiversity to artisanal mining and due diligence. In her most recent position as Standards and Assurance Director at the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) she was an active part of the OECD MSG panel and led RJC’s participation in the ‘OECD Alignment Assessment’ pilot. She now works in the Copper department at Glencore and became Chair of the Responsible Sourcing and Sustainability Committee of the Cobalt Institute in 2020.

Rachel Zhou, Deputy General-Secretary, Responsible Cobalt Initiative

Rachel is the Deputy General-Secretary of the Responsible Cobalt Initiative.

Alex Cech, Senior Project Manager, Responsible Business Alliance

Alex Cech is a Senior Project Specialist with the Responsible Business Alliance where she focuses on upstream risk management, human rights issues, and artisanal and small-scale mining strategies and standards. Alex has more than 10 years of experience in responsible sourcing, human rights issues in supply chains, and economic development. Her experience includes strategy development, group facilitation, project management, analyzing value chains and conducting risk assessments. She previously worked as the Human Rights and Supply Chain Responsibility Program Manager at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. She has also held positions with UL’s Responsible Sourcing group, the World Bank, and ACDI/VOCA. She holds an MS from Georgetown University and a BA from the College of William and Mary.

Jared Connors, Assent Compliance, Senior SME – Corporate Social Responsibility

Jared is focused on helping companies achieve their CSR goals through increased understanding and mitigation of risk. His 12 years of leadership in human rights, anti-bribery and anti-corruption, and environmental issues help him guide companies into new areas of compliance.

Jared personally led on-the-ground audits of more than 75 smelters as part of Intel’s industry-leading conflict minerals program and is the co-creator of the Conflict Minerals Reporting Template.

Day 2 – 19 May

Welcome and Introduction by Peter Vis, Senior Advisor, Rud Pedersen

Peter Vis, Senior Advisor, Rud Pedersen

Peter Vis is a Senior Adviser at Rud Pedersen Public Affairs in Brussels. Previously he worked for 30 years in the Commission on climate, energy and transport policies, but particularly climate, where for five years he served as Chief of Staff to the Commissioner for Climate Action.

Keynote Speech by Joaquim Nunes de Almeida, Director, European Commission

Joaquim Nunes de Almeida – Director – Mobility and energy intensive industries – European Commission

Since March 2021, Joaquim Nunes de Almeida is director in charge of “Mobility and energy intensive industries” at the European Commission, in the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW). He is the director in charge of “Green and Circular Economy” at DG GROW. From 2013 he was director in charge of various single market policies (procurement, free movement of goods and enforcement). Joaquim started his career at the European Commission in 1995 and has extensive experience in policies related to the internal market and home affairs (police cooperation, terrorism, law enforcement, asylum and immigration).

Joaquim has studied law and worked as a lawyer both in Lisbon and in Brussels, from 1989 to 1994, dealing mainly with anti-trust law as well as commercial and civil law.

Session 1: Battery Regulation

Michael Greenfield, Market Reporter, Fastmarkets

Michael has been a price reporter at Fastmarkets for 3.5 years, and primarily covers the cobalt pricing. Prior to this, Michael worked as a journalist in Malaysia and the UAE.

Dalila Ouerghi, Commodities, Fastmarkets

Dalila is a senior price reporter at Fastmarkets covering the cobalt and lithium markets. Prior to that, she worked as price reporter for other leading PRAs covering the energy commodities.

Mattia Pellegrini, Head of Unit, European Commission

Mr Pellegrini is the Head of Unit for Waste Management & Secondary Materials at DG Environment in the European Commission.

Maria Spyraki MEP, European Parliament

Ms Spyraki MEP is a Greek member of the European Parliament, where she is a member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and Committee on Industry, Research and Energy.

She has a Degree in Chemistry from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece as well as an MSc in Energy Law, Business, Regulation and Policy from the International University of Greece.

Pia Alina Lange, Head of Internal & External Communications, Recharge

Pia Alina Lange heads the communications department at non-profit association RECHARGE. Prior to joining the European association for advanced rechargeable batteries, she was responsible for communications and public affairs at international PV waste manager PV CYCLE. Alina started her career in the green energy sector at S&P500 company First Solar, where she worked on public relations, governmental affairs and communications at the Brussels office. She holds a Master in economic science.

An Austrian national, Alina is based in Brussels and married with two children.

Jan Tytgat, Director Government Affairs, Umicore

Jan Tytgat obtained a PhD in Chemistry and as director Government Affairs at Umicore, he is in charge of the relation with public authorities on sustainable mobility, energy, trade and recycling. Before, he was head of Umicore’s battery recycling project. He is Member of the Board of Recharge ( and EBRA ( and chairman of the Trade Committee of Eurometaux (

Coffee Talk: A Chinese Perspective on the Regulation and Impact on European Markets

Vicky Zhao, Senior Analyst, Fastmarkets

Vicky Zhao is senior analyst of Battery Research at Fastmarkets, based in Beijing. She is responsible for battery metals (cobalt, lithium and nickel) supply and demand analysis, research and forecast. She has over 5 years as the battery raw material industry analyst.

Bryce Lee, Head of CSR, Huayou Cobalt

Bryce is director of the Corporation Social Responsibility Office at Huayou Cobalt.

Julie Liang, ESG Director, CMOC

Julie Liang is director of environmental, social and governance at China Molybdenum (CMOC). CMOC is an international mineral resources company engaged in exploration, mining, processing, refining, marketing, and trading of mineral products.

As a global mining company which has obtained a first tier MSCI ESG rating, CMOC follows the highest international ESG practices. CMOC is listed on the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges and currently employs approximately 21,000 personnel and contractors globally.

Zhenzhong Zhang, Director, International Cooperation Department, GEM (WUHAN) Power Battery Recycling Co., ltd

Zhenzhong Zhang is director at the international co-operation Department of GEM Power Battery Recycling.

Tina Hu, Purchasing Manager, Hunan Brunp

Tina Hu is Purchasing Manager at Hunan Brunp.

Session 2: Cobalt Chemicals Management and Impact on Batteries

Violaine Verougstraete, Chemicals Management Director, Eurometaux

Violaine coordinates Eurometaux's Chemicals Management activities, since 2012.

She studied medicine and industrial toxicology at the Catholic University of Louvain and obtained her PhD in Public Health in 2005. She worked as a researcher at the University's Industrial Toxicology and Occupational Medicine Unit for 8 years before joining Eurometaux in 2005, to manage all scientific activities and projects.

Tuulia Svanehav, Chemical Compliance Manager, Northvolt

Tuulia Svanehav has been Chemical Compliance Manager at Northvolt since January 2020.

Before joining Northvolt and battery industry she has gathered 20 years of experience from hardmetal industry, oil industry, and the Swedish work environment authority within the areas of chemicals management, product stewardship, regulatory advocacy, and regulatory compliance with several years of focus on cobalt.

She holds a Master’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Helsinki, Finland, including studies in the University of Wales Swansea, UK, and the University of Turku, Finland. She is based in Stockholm, Sweden.

An Hagenaars, Global Manager Chemicals Compliance, Umicore

An Hagenaars is Global Manager Chemicals Compliance at Umicore. She holds a PhD in Biomedical Sciences and is active in the chemicals management domain for 7 years. As head of the Product Stewardship Management team, her main responsibilities focus on advocacy programs for chemical regulatory processes and on international chemicals compliance strategies for Umicore.

Jonathan Buston, Principal Scientist, UK HSE

Jonathan Buston is the Principal Scientist at Health and Safety Executive Principal Scientist at Health and Safety Executive

Benchmark session: Cobalt’s life cycle: The benefits cobalt brings to the lithium-ion battery supply chain

Caspar Rawles, Head of Price & Data Assessments - Benchmark

Caspar is Head of Price Assessments at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.

Greg Miller, Analyst - Benchmark

Greg is an analyst at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.

Trent Mell, CEO & President First Cobalt

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.

Ajay Kocchar, Co-Founder, President & CEO, Executive Director - Li-Cycle

Ajay is Co-Founder, President and CEO at Li-Cycle.

Closing Speech by Professor Kristin A. Persson, University of California, Berkley

Kristin Persson, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. Faculty Staff Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Director of the Materials Project (

Dr Persson is Professor in Materials Science and Engineering at University of California, Berkeley.

Closing Speech by Dr. Michael McKittrick, Acting Director, Department of Energy

Dr. Michael McKittrick, Acting Director, Department of Energy

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Mike McKittrick, Ph.D., serves as the acting director for the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) at the U.S. Department of Energy. He is serving concurrently as the program lead for R&D Consortia where he oversees AMO’s public-private R&D consortia, which bring together manufacturers, small businesses, universities, National Laboratories, and state and local governments to pursue early-stage R&D in high-priority areas essential to energy in manufacturing.

Dr. McKittrick previously managed the Critical Materials Institute (CMI), an Energy Innovation Hub led by Ames Laboratory, as a technology manager within AMO. Dr. McKittrick was a co-author of the 2011 DOE Critical Materials Strategy, which assessed the challenges associated with the use of rare earth elements and other critical materials in clean energy technologies. Prior to joining DOE, he led efforts within the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Research and Development to develop extramural research programs on rare earth elements and also managed nanotechnology related grants. Prior to the EPA, Dr. McKittrick was at the University at Buffalo as an assistant professor, focusing on developing energy efficient catalytic materials for pollutant degradation. Dr. McKittrick received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Georgia Tech. He also holds a B.S. in chemical engineering from Virginia Commonwealth University.