Cockerill has spent 40 years in the mining industry and was most recently chair of Petmin between 2010 and 2017.
He was previously CEO of Anglo Coal and was managing director then COO and eventually CEO of Gold Fields over a number of years.
Prior to this he was executive director for business development and then executive officer of African and international operations at AngloGold.
Cockerill is currently chair at Blackrock World Mining, lead independent director at Ivanhoe Mines and non-executive director at Orica Limited.
He is also chair of Conservation 360, a conservation NGO involved with the proposed installation of surveillance technology to assist with anti-poaching activities in Botswana.
Polymetal said Cockerill will stand for election at the upcoming annual general meeting on April 23 and, if elected, will succeed outgoing Bobby Godsell as chair.
Godsell, who has been chair since 2011, has decided not to stand for re-election, along with Jonathan Best.
Giacomo Baizini will replace Best as chair of the audit and risk committee.