Lynas taps new chief as production ramps-up

Mineral sands miner Lynas Corp has replaced its chief executive Nicholas Curtis, just weeks after its controversial Malaysian plant produced its first rare earths products.

Mineral sands miner Lynas Corp has replaced its chief executive Nicholas Curtis, just weeks after its controversial Malaysian plant produced its first rare earths products.

President and chief operating officer Eric Noyrez will take over as chief executive on March 31, while Mr Curtis will remain on the company's board as non-executive chairman.

Lynas said the reshuffle, which also saw Lynas director Liam Forde named deputy chairman, was part of its transition towards making rare earth products.

"Achieving our first rare earths production last week is a significant transnational milestone, and a fitting time for us to allow Eric to take over all executive responsibility," Mr Curtis said.

Mr Noyrez was previously president of Rhodia Silcea, a division of chemical company Rhodia, which specialises in rare earths and silica. A Lynas spokesman said Mr Noyrez was recruited in 2010 with such a transition in mind.

"With the announcement last week about first production, it's just a logical time for the board. Nick Curtis and the board felt it was a good time to take the next step - which was to separate the chief executive's responsibilities from the chairmanship," the spokesman said.

BBY analyst Mike Harrowell welcomed Mr Noyrez's appointment, saying he was "a very experienced operator with a lifetime in the rare earths business".

Lynas had an operating loss of $48.8 million for the six months to December, compared with an operating loss of $36.5 million in the previous corresponding period.

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