Carrabba served as the chairman, president and chief executive officer of Cliffs Natural Resources from 2006 until his retirement in November 2013. Prior to this, he acquired extensive experience in the mining industry, working throughout Canada, the US, Asia, Australia and Europe.
Importantly, he worked in several leadership roles for Rio Tinto, including as president and COO of the company's Diavik diamond mines.
"Joseph's extensive experience and knowledge in exploration and global mining operations will add significant value to the proficiency of the existing Board," said chief executive officer Mark Smith.
The news follows NioCorp's announcement yesterday that it has signed an offtake agreement with ThyssenKrupp Metallurgical Products, which has agreed to purchase about 3,750 metric tons, or roughly 50 percent, of the company's planned ferro-niobium production from its Elk Creek deposit for an initial 10-year term.
The agreement is conditional on the company obtaining project financing to build a mine in Elk Creek, but NioCorp said that having the deal in place and discussing debt and equity financing possibilities with ThyssenKrupp "clearly enhances" its prospects of achieving those milestones.
NioCorp is currently in the process of developing the deposit, and recently raised $10.6 million in a special warrant financing for continued infill drilling, pilot plant testing, and ultimately, the finalization of its full feasibility study for Elk Creek. The feasibility process commenced in the spring of this year and is expected to conclude in the first half of 2015.
Niobium is mainly used in the form of ferro-niobium to produce high strength, low alloy steel, for use in automotive, structural and pipeline applications, and demand is seen increasing as the U.S. currently imports 100% of its niobium needs.