Clive Johnson is one of very few mining entrepreneurs to have grown an exploration venture into a billion dollar market cap gold producer, not once but twice. He said it was an accident he ended up in the mining business, but Johnson’s first venture Bema Gold, was no accident after it was sold for CAD $3.5B to Kinross in February 2007. B2Gold (TSE: BTO) (www.B2Gold.com) has the mission to develop world class gold deposits and is guided by the same management team as it emerges to become the next major gold producer.
Investors, geoscientists, prospectors, gold bugs, and CEO’s alike gathered at the Vancouver Convention Centre East on January 26th to commence AME BC Roundup 2015 which focuses on global mineral exploration.
To start off the week, keynote speaker Clive Johnson welcomed attendees and spoke of the importance of mining in improving the lives of ordinary people in developing countries.
I was fortunate enough to have attended the early morning CEO breakfast and the following are key excerpts from Mr. Johnson’s opening keynote speech:
“In our industry, if you have the opportunity to obtain cash, take it along with more than you think you will need, because you will always need it.”
“One of the most important aspects of a mining company is management. Sadly, management has not been doing well in many areas of our industry. There have been too many mistakes with cost overruns, poor engineering, and hopeless projects having cash thrown at them. Our industry is suffering due mainly to misguided companies and of course weak gold prices.”
“To generate value for shareholders miners have to do accretive deals by acquiring real estate that has defined ounces in the ground. We do not acquire projects and spend our money exploring for gold, our company acquires property with gold in the ground in countries where others may not see the value.”
“The key to successfully operating mines internationally is to have the proper experience and at B2Gold we can firmly say we do. As well, you have to empower the people that are at the sites. With our producing mines in Nicaragua, Philippines, and now Namibia we make every effort to hire individuals from the communities there.
“In 1988 Bema Gold started exploring in Chile which was seen as a little bit crazy at the time because not many companies had projects in the country. We always viewed ourselves as contrarians. That has always been one of our keys to success, being prepared to go where others fear to tread.”
“Nicaragua is one of my favourite countries to do business in. It has a strong history of mining. In my opinion it is a country which is going to boom in the next 10 to 20 years. We have excellent relations with the government and have never had any issues or hint of corruption. To do our part we are the largest employer and taxpayer in Nicaragua with our two producing mines.”
“Delivering promises to shareholders has always been a priority, but it is the local people and government in the jurisdictions that you operate in that promises truly must be kept. Your project will never be approved if local government believes you are going to pollute the environment or not mine in a sustainable manner, which is the complete opposite of B2Gold.”
“My advice to junior explorers is do not try to transition yourselves into a producer, you will fail unless you have the experience. The transition is incredibly complex and requires a whole new set of skills to be successful at which very few teams possess. The ideal situation is to make the discovery and take the attractive buy-out offer from an experienced producer.”
“Keys for success in mining are be prepared to go international. We have ventured to Russia, Nicaragua, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Namibia to name a few. Always conduct thorough due diligence paired with strong corporate and technical teams. This is a business with investors. We are here to make money.”
Roundup continues in Vancouver today through Thursday. Here’s a link to the schedule.
I will be attending the AME BC Celebration of Excellence Awards Gala from 6:30PM to late this evening and look forward to meeting other professionals in the mining industry.
Discuss at http://chat.ceo.ca