ASX delays CHESS replacement again, Lynas plans $500m rare earths expansion and Orica acquires Axis


ASX’s CHESS replacement project is now not expected to go live until late 2024.

ASX Limited (ASX: ASX) has announced it is pushing back the timeline for its Clearing House Electronic Subregister System (CHESS) replacement project for a fifth time, citing “more development is required than previously anticipated” in an announcement on Wednesday.

The launch of the highly-anticipated CHESS replacement project has been delayed for at least another year, with ASX confirming it will not go live until late 2024.

ASX has appointed tech company Accenture to follow through with an independent review of the CHESS project, allowing a confirmed timetable to be put in place.

ASX managing director and chief executive officer Helen Lofthouse said the project is making significant progress; however, a review was necessary to assess the work that has been done and to figure out what needs to be done.

“CHESS is a critical system and we must have high confidence in the schedule to deliver new CHESS safely,” Ms Lofthouse said.

“I know our customers will be disappointed, as I am, with the uncertainty about the timeline for completion. I apologize for the uncertainty and thank them for their close and constructive work with us on this important project.”

ASX announced the likely change to the CHESS release date on 28 March. The project was initially scheduled to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2020, but has been delayed ever since due to COVID-19 riddled times and other factors.

Lyna’s Rare Earths

Lynas Rare Earths (ASX: LYC) has announced it is planning to invest $500 million to expand capacity at one of the world’s highest grade rare earth deposits, its Mt Weld site in Western Australia.

Located 30km south of Laverton in WA, the Mt Weld site hosts the undeveloped Duncan (rare earths), Crown (niobium, tantalum, titanium, rare earths, zirconium), and Swan (phosphate) deposits.

The company aims to raise its neodymium praseodymium production to 10,500 tonnes per annum by 2025.

The investment comes as the market for rare earths continues to surge, caused by the rise of electric vehicles and wind energy.

The company hopes to increase the Mt Weld site’s feedstock production capacity of neodymium praseodymium to 12,000tpa.

Lyna’s chief executive officer and managing director Amanda Lacaze said the investment is a result of having a reliable and trustworthy source of feedstock at its Mt Weld mine.

“Having a long-life resource is an essential foundation for success in the rare earths market and the recent 1km deep drilling has demonstrated Mt Weld’s potential to supply feedstock for many years into the future.”

Lynas hopes to begin expansion efforts on the Mt Weld site early next year.

Orica

Leading supplier of commercial explosives Orica (ASX: ORI) has announced it has entered a binding agreement for the acquisition of Axis Mining Technology.

Axis designs, develops and manufactures specialized geospatial tools and instruments used within the mining industry.

Orica believes Axis’ geospatial technology will accelerate its ability to support new mineral discoveries required for decarbonisation, enabling further “compelling” growth opportunities.

Orica managing director and chief executive officer Sanjeev Gandhi said he is excited by the acquisition of Axis.

“The integration of Axis’ technology and expertise will accelerate our ability to support our customer’s digital transformation efforts around the world, helping them to operate more efficiently, sustainably and safely,” he said.

Orica will put forward an upfront cash consideration of $260 million, along with a deferred earn-out payment of up to $90 million, subject to financial performance and other criteria being met.

The company will raise capital to fund the acquisition through a $650 million institutional share placement.

Core Lithium

Core Lithium (ASX: CXO) has announced former Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) executive Gareth Manderson as the company’s new chief executive officer, following on from Stephen Biggins’ retirement and resignation as managing director back in March.

Mr Manderson has 28 years of experience within the mining and minerals sector, holding different leadership positions and technical roles at Rio Tinto for more than 20 years.

Core Lithium chairman Greg English said the appointment is pleasing and Mr Manderson is “the perfect fit” to be the company’s first chief executive officer.

“There are many synergies between Gareth’s previous senior roles in managing complex mine, mineral processing, port, township and logistics operations during his tenure at Rio Tinto and the Finniss Project which is 25km from the Darwin CBD and port,” he said.

“Gareth’s previous Northern Territory experience and managing the effects of the annual wet season will also be essential as we plan to be operating in this environment for years to come.”

Mr Manderson will begin his duties as chief executive officer on 8 August, with Mr Biggins to continue as a director while the leadership transition takes place.

Telstra

Australian telecommunications giant Telstra (ASX: TLS) has been served a court order forcing it to deregister more than 150 radio sites that are said to be affecting Optus’ 5G rollout.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) launched an investigation into concerns involving its registration of 315 low-brand radio communications sites back in January.

Telstra has now been required to deregister all remaining radio-communications sites registered in the 900-megahertz band.

While Telstra holds a license for parts of the 900MHz spectrum band until June 2024, up until January it had not registered a new site since 2016.

Following an auction last year, Optus won licenses within the low-band spectrum from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

Following this, Telstra registered the 315 low-band radio-communications sites, before deregistering just 153 of them, with 162 remaining.

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