RANCHO MIRAGE, CALIFORNIA – Niocorp Developments Ltd., a Vancouver-based junior mining company which is developing the Elk Creek niobium deposit in Nebraska, announced that newly appointed CEO Mark Smith has invested another $510,000 US (3.4 million shares at $.15), bringing his total ownership in Niocorp to 8.4 million shares or 8.4% of the company, filings show.
Mr. Smith was appointed CEO of Niocorp in September. A lawyer and engineer by trade, Smith was a senior executive with Unocal for over 20 years, eventually becoming CEO of Chevron Mining. In 2008, a group of private equity and hedge fund investors purchased Molycorp from Chevron and recruited Smith to be CEO, investing $82.5 million at the time. By 2011, Molycorp’s market cap was $6 billion (MCP is now worth $1.15 billion). Smith brought Molycorp public in 2010 and helped to build its Mountain Pass rare-earths mine in California. He resigned in 2012 amid criticism he had lost investor confidence (Bloomberg).
While at Unocal, Smith was a shareholder representative of CBMM, the Brazilian entity which now controls 85% of the world’s niobium supply. Niobium is a steel lightening and strengthening alloy.
Niocorp is tiny in comparison to Smith’s previous endeavours, valued at just $15 million at press time (all figures approximate).
At a corporate presentation in Vancouver in November, we learned Niocorp’s go forward plan involves in-fill drilling at Elk Creek, further metallurgical studies and a Feasibility Study.
The company set out to raise $10 million in September but so far only Mr. Smith has stepped forward to finance the company in a meaningful way, investing $1.02 million US since October, 2013.
Smith told us by phone on Saturday to expect him to be fully behind Niocorp in 2014.
[Disclosure note: Author participated alongside Mr. Smith in this financing and NIocorp has recently become a client. This is not investment advice and do your own due diligence.}