Ucore transition includes top executive
CEO steps down; new president, metallurgists advance M3 plan North of 60 Mining News – June 19, 2020
Last updated 6/26/2020 at 5:12am
After 13 years as the top executive at Ucore Rare Metals Inc., Jim McKenzie is stepping down from his role as president and CEO of the rare earth exploration and technology company to pursue other business interests.
Under McKenzie's leadership, Ucore established a rare earths deposit at its Bokan Mountain project in Southeast Alaska and has pursued new technologies to separate the rare earths, a technology that is key to establishing a REE sector in North America.
"Building an independent, competitive North American rare earth supply chain has been my life's work for nearly 15 years," McKenzie said. "More than ever, this is an essential matter for the U.S. and allied nations for national, technological and economic critical metals security."
This work has culminated in Ucore's mine-to-metal-to-market strategy to help establish an independent rare earth supply chain in the United States. This "M3" strategy involves the advancement of Bokan to shovel-ready status; developing the Alaska Strategic Metals Complex, a facility to separate rare earths and other critical minerals mined at Bokan into individual metals; and cultivating a North American market for these REEs.
McKenzie will remain connected to this pursuit of a North American REE supply chain as a strategic advisor to Ucore.
Ucore Rare Metals Chairman Pat Ryan will fill in as interim CEO while the company's board of directors seek a permanent top executive and Ty Dinwoodie has been named the new president of the company.
Dinwoodie, who specializes in lithium-ion battery materials and rare earths, has an extensive background in market and industry analysis for the global critical minerals and materials sectors.
As president of Alabama Graphite Corp., Dinwoodie arranged and negotiated the sale of that junior graphite exploration and development company prior to NASDAQ-listed Westwater Resources in 2018.
"Ty brings to Ucore a wealth of upstream and downstream REE and other critical materials technology experience,' said Ryan. "He has served as an effective executive officer and senior advisor for several private and public technology and advanced materials companies – including IMC (Innovation Metals Corp.) – in North America, Europe and Australia."
Ucore recently acquired full ownership of Innovation Metals Corp. – a private Canada-based company that has developed RapidSX technology for the separation and purification of rare earth elements and other critical metals.
"We firmly believe that the RapidSX technology holds considerable merit for Ucore's own prospective Alaska Strategic Metals Complex, as discussed in our M3 plan of action, as well as industry-wide commercialization in particular due to the scalable and modular nature of RapidSX," Ryan said earlier this year.
More information on Innovation Metals and RapidSX can be read at Ucore acquires rapid REE separation tech in the April 29 edition of Metal Tech News - https://www.metaltechnews.com/story/2020/04/29/tech-bytes/ucore-acquires-rapid-ree-separation-tech/219.html.
As part of the buyout, Innovation Metals Chairman and CEO Gareth Hatch joined Ucore's management team as chief technology officer.
Renowned for his knowledge of rare earth chemistry and REE permanent magnets, Hatch holds a B.Eng (Honors) degree in materials science and technology, and a Ph.D. in metallurgy and materials, both from the University of Birmingham, with research focused on REE permanent magnet alloys.
Adding to the expertise Hatch brings to the company, Ucore has named Kurt Forrester as vice president of metallurgy.
A two-time graduate of the University of Sydney, earning a bachelors (first-class honors) in Chemical Engineering and a PhD in Engineering, Forrester is a chartered chemical engineer and metallurgist with broad experience across several commodities including rare earths and industrial minerals.
"Kurt's impressive skill set, experience and expertise will be instrumental as we commercialize the RapidSX separation technology platform for REEs, lithium, nickel, cobalt, et al .; develop the Alaska SMC; and in parallel, progress through the feasibility study for the Bokan-Dotson Ridge rare earth element project," said Hatch.
These new additions to management, along with the acquisition of IMC and its RapidSX critical minerals separation technology, strengthens Ucore's ability to help establish a U.S. rare earths supply chain through the development of a mine at Bokan and SMC in the nearby town of Ketchikan.
"Ucore is intensely focused on and has never been better positioned to execute our short-term and long-term business strategies as a leader in the American and international strategic metals industry," said Ryan.
This positioning provides McKenzie the opportunity to move out of the Ucore executive position to pursue other interests.
"I am proud of the company we built and look forward to its future, knowing that Ucore is stronger now than it has ever been – and is in excellent hands," he said.