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Troubled Vital Metals appoints new managing director

The Nechalacho mine is seen from the air in August 2022. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

The owner of the NWT’s Nechalacho rare earths mine has appointed a new leader after recently sending a Canadian subsidiary into bankruptcy.

Australian firm Vital Metals said in late September it was placing into bankruptcy the holding company responsible for a planned processing plant in Saskatoon. Vital no longer holds out any hope of finishing that project, worth tens of millions of dollars.

The company has also said it is ending an agreement to sell output from Nechalacho to a Norwegian firm.

Instead, the company has said it is focusing on expanding Nechalacho by exploring more of an area known as the Tardiff deposit. While near the existing, small-scale mine, Tardiff is a separate deposit that Vital says has the potential to be world-class.

News that the processing plant won’t see the light of day – despite a recent visit from Justin Trudeau as the federal government pushed its commitment to critical minerals – was the product of a more than a year of reorganization and reprioritization at Vital.



On Sunday, that process continued as the company announced Geordie Mark would become its new managing director and chief executive officer.

Mark was previously the head of mining research at Vancouver-based investment firm Haywood Securities. Vital said he brings a “diverse range of experience that spans the mining industry, academia, and equities markets.”

His appointment is the latest in a series of senior management and board-level changes.

In April, Vital switched to “focus on conserving cash” after losing managing director John Dorward just months after appointing him. The company’s chairman and chief financial officer also departed.



Vital’s interim chairman, Richard Crookes, said in a press release that Mark’s hiring was “part of an important refresh for our board and executive management.” The company said he would be paid $420,000 per year plus other incentives.

“With our focus now on developing the Tardiff rare earths deposit at our Nechalacho project, we are excited to have Geordie on board to help drive our growth and project development, and believe he has the experience, skills and relationships that can help Vital achieve this,” Crookes was quoted as saying.

In the same press release, Mark stated that he believed Vital can “play a pivotal role in fostering change in tomorrow’s energy and technology sectors as a potential supplier of critical minerals.”