VANCOUVER, April 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ - Search Minerals Inc. ("Search" or the "Company") (TSXV: SMY) is pleased to announce the appointment of Stephen Keith as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company, effective immediately. James (Jim) Clucas, the outgoing President and Chief Executive Officer, has transitioned to Executive Chairman of the Company.
On his appointment, Mr. Keith stated, "I am pleased to be taking on this exciting new role with a company poised for tremendous growth. Search presents an exceptional opportunity for investors. Search controls an entire rare earth district, with multiple targets containing strategically important Heavy Rare Earth Elements; it has a positive and robust PEA on its flagship Foxtrot Project, with a relatively low capex; and it owns a processing technology, SALT, that, on its own, could be a company maker. These assets, combined with a world class Board of Directors and strategic shareholders, position Search for an exciting future. Going forward, we will deliver value by focusing on our current portfolio of assets and by actively looking for new opportunities in strategic metals in friendly jurisdictions. Our goal is to establish strong partnerships that will allow us to develop our assets and move the Company towards cash flow."
Mr. Keith has worked on projects in more than 30 countries, with a focus in Latin America. Mr. Keith was most recently a founder and the President and Chief Executive Officer of Rio Verde Minerals Development Corp. (TSX: RVD), a company he took from concept to listing onto the TSX, with over $30 million completed in equity financings. Mr. Keith led Rio Verde until its acquisition by B&A Fertilizers Limited on March 13, 2013. As an engineer, he has worked with mining and energy companies on projects through feasibility studies, engineering design, project management and construction. In finance and investment banking, he has engaged in over C$2 billion in financings and merger and acquisition deals for natural resource projects. Mr. Keith is a member of the Board of Directors of Aura Minerals Inc. He holds a BSc, Applied Science (Queen's University), an International MBA ( York University, Schulich School of Business) and a P.Eng. ( Ontario and British Columbia).
Jim Clucas stated, "I am pleased to welcome Stephen as the new President and CEO of Search. Stephen has been an active Board member since his appointment in September 2012, which will provide a seamless transition into his new role. I am confident that Search will benefit from his full-time dedication and significant experience in project development and capital markets."Mr. Clucas remains a Director of the Company and has also taken on the role of Executive Chairman. Mr. Clucas was the President and Chief Executive Officer of Search Minerals Inc. from September 2009 until today. He was the Chief Financial Officer of Inco's Canadian operations until 1984 and has been involved in the development of several mineral deposits, including the Snow Lake Mine (High River Gold Mines), Montana Tunnels (Pegasus Mining), and the Fenix Project (HudBay Minerals Inc.). Mr. Clucas was the founder of International Nickel Ventures Inc. which acquired and developed the Santa Fe/Ipora Nickel Laterite deposit in Brazil. In addition to his role as Director and Executive Chairman for Search, Mr. Clucas will devote special attention to advancing business opportunities for the Starved Acid Leach Technology ("SALT") technology process. SALT has been recently awarded the United States Patent Number 8,361,191 with the title "Low Acid Leaching of Nickel and Cobalt from Lean Iron-Containing Nickel Ores." Dr. David Dreisinger (Vice President of Metallurgy and a Director) and Mr. Clucas are listed as the inventors, with all patent rights assigned to Search. The SALT process has already been through a bench and pilot plant program funded by Votorantim Group in Brazil, and results to date have been encouraging. The Votorantim Group has purchased a 50% option for the rights to use the process in Brazil. In addition, bench scale evaluation of a suite of nickel laterite samples from the Pomalaa deposit of PT ANTAM (Persero) Tbk has been conducted via a service agreement at the University of British Columbia Hydrometallurgy Laboratory under the supervision of Dr. David Dreisinger. The results of the testing have been forwarded to PT ANTAM for review and comment. Search has been evaluating strategic alternatives to further develop its Foxtrot Rare Earth Element Project ("Foxtrot Project"), located in Labrador, Canada. The Company recently released the results of a revised Preliminary Economic Assessment ("PEA"), which reinforced that the Foxtrot Project has robust economics and high potential to become a profitable producer of Rare Earth Elements ("REE"), particularly Dy, Tb and Nd, outside of China. Search controls an entire heavy REE district, with multiple known targets, which are strategically located approximately 36 km east southeast of Port Hope Simpson, and approximately 10 km west northwest of St. Lewis. The project is accessible by all-season road, and the deep-water port and airstrip facilities in St. Lewis. In addition to focusing on its existing portfolio of projects, Search will start to actively explore new opportunities in other strategic metals in friendly jurisdictions, prioritizing projects that can be partnered, funded and developed in a relatively short period of time. The Company believes that getting to cash flow is key in current markets. Tremendous potential exists within a selected group of metals that are expected to continue to experience supply shortfalls in strategic regions.