August 2014

Names to know 2014

12 characters whose energy, imagination and impact are catalysts for change in a tumultuous year

By Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco, Christopher Pollon and Kelsey Rolfe

Rob McEwen

He built Goldcorp Inc. from the ground up and into the world’s fastest-growing senior gold producer. Now Rob McEwen is heading up his namesake McEwen Mining Inc., hoping his Midas touch is in good working order.

Rob_McEwen

CIM: How key has long-term thinking been for you?

RM: It’s very important. You need a goal, a strategy, lots of passion and luck! In Goldcorp’s case, our goal was to concentrate on activities that would build our share price. McEwen Mining is also the product of planning, and yes I’d like to see if we can do a Goldcorp again. Finding another Red Lake is not an easy task, but while we’re working on that goal we are also building a company that would qualify for inclusion in the S&P 500 index, which would mean a stable long-time shareholder base and a lower cost of capital. Right now there is only one gold producer in that index. Currently there’s over $1.6 trillion invested by index funds in the S&P 500. McEwen Mining is one of only about five companies in the precious metal universe that has a shot of getting in.

CIM: You own 25 per cent of McEwen Mining’s outstanding shares but you do not pay yourself a salary for your role as CEO and chairman. Why?

RM: After Goldcorp I wanted to try a different model of management and compensation where I was more closely aligned with my fellow shareholders by positioning myself more like a merchant banker than a hired gun, professional manager.

Ten years ago, institutional investors rushed into the precious metals market and appeared to want bigger companies so they can put more money to work. Ambitious CEOs who were being showered with money said, “Well, let’s build bigger companies.” Unfortunately they got carried away with buying companies at big premiums. The result has been bigger companies and smaller share prices!

I think getting into the S&P 500 is worth striving for, but at the same time I don’t want to build a company that’s bigger just for the sake of bigger.

CIM: What is your vision of the ideal company structure?

RM: My ideal company becomes more efficient each year: more production, improved profit margins, pays a dividend and its share price increases significantly over the intermediate and long-term. Also, I’d like to have a company that issues financial statements that shareholders can read. Simple language, clear statements and minimal text is urgently needed.

CIM: What role do strong relationships with all stakeholders play in a company’s success?

RM: When I created Goldcorp, our Red Lake mine already had a long history of troubled labour relationships. So, one of the first things I did as CEO was to visit the mine union’s head office to talk about a different relationship where we could both prosper. The importance of this step was the mutual respect and cooperation it fostered. We didn’t always see eye to eye but at least the door was open for a conversation.

In my last four years running Goldcorp we would invite our largest suppliers and representatives of important sectors of the communities around our mines to attend our annual shareholders’ meetings and exhibit their services and needs to our shareholders in a trade fair-like environment. Whatever we could do to help these groups grow seemed like an excellent investment in the future.

CIM: You recently hosted a number of speakers at your head office to explore opportunities for innovation in mining. The guest list included suppliers and academics, but also employees from your competition. What are you hoping to achieve with these discussions?

RM: The purpose was to gather individuals from all sectors of the industry who have an interest in changing and improving the way we do the business of mining. Hopefully, we will help speed up the adoption of new technologies in our company and the rest of our industry. 

— By Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco


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