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At TMAC Resources, one of new CEO Jason Neal’s biggest priorities will be making a long-term success of its Hope Bay gold project in Nunavut.IAN WILLMS/The New York Times

One of Canada's best known mining bankers has jumped to a junior gold company.

Jason Neal, a former managing director with BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc., is leaving to become chief executive officer of Toronto-based TMAC Resources Inc.

Mr. Neal had been with BMO for 21 years, joining the bank-owned dealer right out of university. In 2010, he was appointed co-head of the global metals and mining group, a position he split with Egizio Bianchini.

"Jason has been key in helping to build the business and the broader franchise, and we thank him for his dedication, leadership and partnership over the years," Dan Barclay, co-head global investment and corporate banking with BMO, wrote in a statement to The Globe and Mail.

Last year, Mr. Neal was BMO's lead banker on the $570-million (U.S.) initial public offering of zinc producer Nexa Resources SA, which was the third-biggest mining IPO to date on the Toronto Stock Exchange. BMO co-led the offering.

"I have known and worked closely with Jason over the past 15 years and have great respect for his team building, management and analytical skills," Terry MacGibbon, TMAC's executive chairman, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Mr. MacGibbon is the founder of FNX Mining Co. Inc., which merged with Quadra Mining Ltd. in 2010. That company was later sold to KGHM Polska Mied SA of Poland in 2012 for $2.9-billion (Canadian).

TMAC went public on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2015 at $6 a share, raising $155-million. Mr. Neal was the lead banker for BMO on the IPO.

Mr. Neal isn't the only banker who has left BMO's mining team for industry recently. In August, 2016, Jason Attew, managing director of global metals and mining with BMO, joined Goldcorp Inc. as senior vice-president of corporate development and strategy. Later that year, he was appointed chief financial officer.

BMO declined to comment on whether it would be looking for a replacement for Mr. Neal, or if Mr. Bianchini will now do the job solo. "We have a strong and deep pool of talent to draw on in serving our clients all over the world," Mr. Barclay said.

"Jason and Egizio Bianchini have done an exceptional job of mentoring and cultivating talent to build a sustainable franchise," he added.

At TMAC, one of Mr. Neal's biggest priorities will be making a long-term success of its Hope Bay gold project in Nunavut.

After its IPO, shares in TMAC eventually climbed to around $19 by late 2016. But as it encountered operational setbacks, the stock came off the boil. The company's Doris mine started commercial production last year, but the company slashed its production forecast after dealing with lower gold recovery rates than expected.

In a separate statement on Tuesday, TMAC said recovery levels at Doris are improving.

"The company must still demonstrate the sustainability of the improvements and further gains are still required," Mark Mihaljevic, analyst with RBC Dominion Securities , wrote on Tuesday.

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