It sounds like there’s a strong fit in McEwen Mining’s new hire, Colin Sutherland. Recently the miner with operating gold-silver assets in Mexico and Argentina announced hiring a new president and CEO after a protracted search. This was after the departure of Ian Ball to Abitibi Resources almost two years ago now.
I wanted to hear more from the duo, to get a sense of what Sutherland brings to the table, and as much as anything else, a tentative idea (albeit from just one phone interview) of how the two marry as a mining team. The bio, which is strong, only tells you so much.
On that, Sutherland, a CPA, undoubtedly has a strong mining background. He most recently ran operations at the North Sulawesi gold mine in Indonesia, guiding it to production of 200,000 ounces a year. Before that, he was deep in Mexico involved at the senior level in juniors like Nayarit Gold, Capital Gold, Timmins Gold and Aurico Gold.
On the line, Sutherland notes these experiences.
“I’ve operated in different jurisdictions we’re interested in,” he says. “I’ve got the capital markets background. I’ve got the discipline in running operations.”
Indeed a strong fit for McEwen. Rob McEwen notes that the experiences will come in handy for the miner. He points out McEwen Mining holds the Los Azules project in Argentina, a large copper porphyry on the backburner for now. McEwen thinks that may come in handy, especially the Asian connections.
“There’s insights into markets that we didn’t have as well as skills in running operations,” McEwen says. “It’s a very interesting combination. Where you have a person with not only very strong financial knowledge, but operational knowledge. And that can accelerate growth.”
But it’s clear the two also get along in an equally important way.
“I think the clear differentiator when Colin and I were having discussions, was that he said, ‘Well I like the package you have in the company, the portfolio of properties, and I want to make an investment before I join.’
“So Colin purchased about 460,000 shares prior to joining. That’s showing a big commitment.”
McEwen, who owns 25% of McEwen Mining’s shares, continues, “I’m a firm believer you want to show shareholders you are aligned with their interests through a sizeable equity stake. It just focuses your attention on priorities. You don’t see a lot of that in the industry.”
In this, the two are clearly aligned and that bodes well for their working relationship.
What are they working on? Of course McEwen, a debt-free miner, will be aiming to run existing operations efficiently, and pushing to maintain McEwen’s NYSE listing over a dollar (which it needs to do to stay on the exchange.)
But McEwen signals strong interest in opportunities. Of course CEOs always say that. However, McEwen clearly sounds like he has some particular targets – or parameters for them – in mind. He’s paying attention to Argentina and also the strength in operations that benefit from the strength of gold prices in local currencies.
He thinks this is flying under the radar. Towards the end of the interview McEwen notes that there will be cash flow and earnings where people don’t expect in gold miners or their projects.
“That you want to get a leg up on,” he says. “That’s why we’re looking around.” He adds on Argentina, “We’re watching Argentina very closely, where we have a number of assets, as it could represent a turnaround this year with the new government in play.”
NYSE, TSX: MUX
Recent cash position: $32m