NioCorp Developments (TSE:NB)(OTCQX:NIOBF) said it has appointed Neal Shah, who has been with the company since last September in the role of VP finance, as interim chief financial officer.
Shah has almost 20 years of experience in several industries from high tech to rare earths, and was recently senior manager of corporate development and M&A, and director of strategy and business planning at Molycorp.
Shah will replace Casey Forward, who has resigned from his post as CFO.
"With his educational background, diverse historical experience and recent time spent at NioCorp, Neal is an excellent person to take over the role of Interim CFO and help guide the company forward as we work diligently towards feasibility," said executive chairman Mark Smith.
The company also announced the appointment of John Ashburn as VP, general counsel and corporate secretary. Most recently, he was VP, chief legal officer and a member of the board of Simbol, a privately held development-stage lithium producer.
Ashburn will replace Peter Dickie in the role of corporate secretary, but Dickie will remain president of NioCorp.
"As another key addition to the team, John's business acumen, 'can do' attitude and legal experience will ensure our ability to move forward in developing the Elk Creek project and optimizing shareholder value," said Smith.
NioCorp is developing the only primary niobium deposit known to be under development in the U.S., and the highest grade undeveloped niobium deposit in North America, located near Elk Creek, Nebraska. It is expecting to release a preliminary economic assessment for the project in the next two to three weeks.
The company has led an aggressive development path over the past year, finishing a three-phase drilling program in 2014 that more than tripled contained niobium resources at the site, while also moving to secure project financing.
Niobium is combined with iron to produce an alloy known as ‘ferroniobium’, which is used to produce HSLA (High Strength, Low Alloy) steel. It has become an essential metal to help produce lighter, stronger steel for use in automotive, structural and pipeline industries.
The material is one of fourteen metals or groups of metals that the Council of Europe has identified as critical. The United States National Research Council considers it even more important, listing it as one of the five "most critical" metals.