Is Mining Compatible With Being an Entrepreneur?

Exploration plays a key role in ensuring the long-term viability of the world’s mining industry. It leads to the discovery and development of mineral deposits that may become future mines, creates jobs and can attract significant investment. But there are many other boxes that need to be checked before the exploration process can begin.

Early Days

My career in mineral exploration and mining began in the explosives supply business, and then in providing explosives manufacturing, drilling and blasting services for the mining and heavy construction industry in Newfoundland and Labrador. At that time (early 1980s), the business was mostly serviced by wholly-owned subsidiaries of large multi-national companies like DuPont and CIL. I was appointed the Newfoundland distributor for DuPont Explosives in 1985, before starting my own company, Newfoundland Hard Rok Inc in 1987.

The business grew significantly over the years, coinciding with the increasing development of the province’s mining and construction industries. While successful on its own, Newfoundland Hard-Rok Inc opted to create a wholly-owned subsidiary, Dyno Nobel Labrador, in 2004. That company signed deals with then-mining giant Inco to design, build and operate a bulk emulsion manufacturing plant for Inco’s open pit mine at Voisey’s Bay. Earlier this year, Dyno Nobel Labrador inked an agreement with Vale, the mine’s new owner, to expand the plant and provide all equipment necessary to handle explosives for the underground mine at Voisey’s Bay. As I’ve said to others, I’m an optimist at heart so I see only good things ahead for Newfoundland Hard Rok Inc, Dyno Nobel Labrador Inc, and the province’s growing mining industry.

Cornerstone & Cascabel

Even though Newfoundland Hard Rok Inc was a success, my interest in other opportunities in the mineral resource and extraction industries led me to co-found Cornerstone Capital Resources Inc in 1997. At that time, the company was focused on mineral exploration projects in Newfoundland and Labrador, but during my tenure, we expanded our acquisitions to include properties in Chile and Ecuador. For example, I was serving as president, CEO and vice chair of Cornerstone when in 2011 the company acquired the prized Cascabel project in Ecuador, which is today viewed as a major copper-gold deposit. Cascabel is in northwestern Ecuador in an under-explored northern section of the Andean Copper Belt.

Although I am no longer with the company, I am a major shareholder, and watched with interest this year as Cornerstone sent out a number of press releases noting the positive potential of the Cascabel mine. Acquiring projects in Ecuador and Chile was considered a somewhat risky move at the time, especially during the years of the Mining Moratorium in Ecuador. Many years later, it seems our decisions to stick with Ecuador, and the Cascabel project in particular, were correct.

During September 2018, BHP Billiton purchased a 6% stake in SolGold, which owns about 77% of the Cascabel project. Today, October 16, 2018 BHP has increased its interest in SolGold to around 11%. That along with Newcrest 14% ownership in SolGold has erased any doubt that Cascabel is a world class mineral deposit. Cornerstone owns 23% of Cascabel, through a 15% interest financed through to completion of a feasibility study, plus 10% of the shares of SolGold, joint venture partner and project operator. In September, Cornerstone issued a release noting that joint venture partner and project operator SolGold believed that assay results from infill and extension drilling at Alpala Central in Cascabel “substantiate the existence of a larger and more robust high-grade core than estimated in the Maiden Resource Estimate” (released in January 2018). Further drilling is expected to add to the elephant sized status of Cascabel.

Stop & Smell the Roses

Details aside, as an entrepreneur, I defined success in the usual ways and that often had to do with business and financial success. But I sometimes sacrificed personal growth, though my family was always a priority. In life and business, it’s important to stop and smell the roses. Take time to appreciate what you have accomplished and the gifts that life presents. I believe it’s one sure way to gain a better perspective on both life and business.