Molycorp, Inc. announced on Dec. 11 that its board of directors has appointed Constantine Karayannopoulos as interim president and chief executive officer and is immediately undertaking a search for a permanent president and chief executive officer.
In a release issued on Dec. 11, Molycorp said former president and CEO Mark A. Smith, who has left the company, but does not give any details.
Karayannopoulos will assume all management responsibilities for Molycorp and its subsidiaries, effective immediately, and will continue to serve as a director and the vice chairman of Molycorp's board of directors. A professional engineer, Karayannopoulos previously served as president and chief executive officer of Neo Material Technologies, a position he held from 2005 until this year. At Neo Materials, Karayannopoulos also served as executive vice president and chief operating officer as well as vice president and general manager of the company's rare earths business unit and vice-president of sales. His exceptional track record in and knowledge of the rare earths industry puts him in a unique position to direct the leading rare earths technology company.
“Molycorp has made significant progress in recent years, culminating in the ramp up of Project Phoenix production capacity at our Mountain Pass facility and the implementation of its vertical integration strategy through the acquisition of Neo Materials, now Molycorp Canada," said Ross R. Bhappu, chairman of the board. "With Project Phoenix on track to achieve a Phase 1 run rate by the end of this month, and these significant accomplishments achieved, the board of directors believes Molycorp is at a natural inflection point, as it transitions its focus from development to ongoing operations, to bring in a proven business leader with industry experience, a track record of operational excellence and management experience to execute Molycorp's strategy. We are confident we can find a permanent chief executive officer with the expertise and credibility to maximize our great potential."
The company noted that, in the near term, Karayannopoulos's focus will include maximizing the synergies between the resource and downstream divisions as well as ensuring that the company has a sufficient liquidity cushion from cash from operations, tight cost controls, and potential proceeds from revolving credit facilities or certain equipment financing and other sources.
"The board of directors thanks Mark Smith for his significant contributions and leadership over the past four years that have brought Molycorp to this natural transition into an ongoing operating business, and we wish him well in his future endeavors," said Bhappu. "Looking ahead, we have full faith and confidence in Constantine to manage the company, operating with the best people and assets in the industry."