Legendary mine developer Rob McEwen has been recognized for his accomplishments in Canadian mining through an induction into the hallowed corridors of the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame.
The Goldcorp (NYSE:GG, TSX:G) founder was recognized at a gala dinner this past month in Toronto – an annual event that celebrates men and women whose contributions to the country’s mining industry have been particularly impactful.
“Rob is a man of rare talents, he is a natural innovator with a keen business mind,” Michael Wekerle, chairman and co-founder of Difference Capital, was quoted saying in TimminsToday – where Goldcorp continues to be one of the mining town’s largest employers. “He is a strategic thinker – the consummate chess player – whose every move is calculated and well ahead of his opponents.”
In a video, McEwen said his father Donald was his life’s inspiration. Told by doctors that he would never walk again after returning from the Second World War in an iron lung, Donald McEwen refused to accept their diagnosis and regained the use of his legs.
“Today, I look at challenges and obstacles I face and say this seems to pale compared to what my dad faced,” McEwen said in the video honouring his induction into the Hall of Fame. His father also inspired his son to become an avid investor, with Rob buying his first stock at the tender age of 12.
McEwen’s story is well known to those who follow mining, but for those wanting a refresher, here it is again, reprised by the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame:
He is best known for transforming Goldcorp Inc. from a holding company into a global gold-mining powerhouse and revitalizing Ontario’s Red Lake gold mine through the discovery of new high-grade resources at depth. His famous “Goldcorp Challenge” in 2000, which provided open access to 50 years of proprietary geological data from Red Lake and offered prizes to anyone who could find the next six million ounces of gold, created an estimated $6 billion of value from subsequent discoveries. McEwen is also an astute investor and corporate strategist, as demonstrated by Goldcorp’s friendly merger with Wheaton River Minerals in 2005. Goldcorp shares tripled in the next 14 months as it grew through a series of mergers into one of the world’s largest gold producers. He went on to build a new flagship, McEwen Mining, while supporting many worthy causes through donations totalling more than $50 million to date.
Born and raised in Toronto, McEwen worked at his father’s investment firm after earning a B.A. from the University of Western Ontario in 1973, followed by an MBA from York University in 1978. In the 1980s, he took the reins of Goldcorp, then a gold fund, and managed its investment portfolio. In 1989, he led Goldcorp’s acquisition of Dickinson Mines and its aging and capital-starved gold mine in the famous Red Lake camp, and began building an operating company. His faith in the mine’s untapped potential was rewarded after a $10-million exploration led to a high-grade discovery in the mid-1990s. In a brilliant move, he created the “Goldcorp Challenge” and placed the mine’s geological data since 1948 on the internet and offered $575,000 in prizes for the best exploration concepts. More than 1,000 participants from 80 countries took part, resulting in more than 50 new targets, 80% of which yielded total gold resources valued at $6 billion. The Red Lake mine was transformed from a 50,000-ounce producer in 1997 to a 500,000-ounce producer in 2001, while cash costs fell from $360 per ounce to $60 per ounce over this period.
Goldcorp went on to become a star performer, with its share price appreciating at a compound annual rate of 31% between 1993 and 2004. McEwen stepped down from Goldcorp after its high-profile $2.4-billion merger with Wheaton River to focus on junior mining. After acquiring U.S. Gold and expanding its assets, he merged the junior with Minera Andes to create McEwen Mining, a gold, silver and copper producer with projects in Nevada, Mexico and Argentina.
As a philanthropist, McEwen has donated more than $50 million to encourage excellence, innovation and leadership in healthcare and education. He also contributed to the Red Lake Margaret Cochenour Memorial Hospital, the Red Lake Regional Heritage Centre, St. Andrews College Leadership Program, Rumie Initiative and most recently the McEwen School of Architecture at Laurentian University. In addition to an honorary degree from York University, McEwen has received many accolades for his achievements, including Developer of the Year for 2001, Mining Man of the Year for 2002, Most Innovative CEO in 2006, and the Order of Canada in 2007.
McEwen joins four other men inducted into this year’s Canadian Mining Hall of Fame. They are James Carter, Donald McLeod, Steve Vaughan and John Zigarlick, Jr. James Carter was recognized for building Syncrude into one of the world’s largest and most successful oil sands producers, while Donald McLeod, the founder of Northair Group, is best known for developing the Brandywine and Summit gold mines in B.C., and for making high-grade gold discoveries at the Brucejack project later acquired by Pretivm Resources (TSX:PVG). Steve Vaughan was involved in numerous initiatives to improve mining and investment policies in Canada, and promoting industry best practices. In the aftermath of the 1997 Bre-X debacle, he was a driving force behind the OSC/TSX Mining Standards Task Force, which called for new mining disclosure standards, later adopted as National Instrument 43-101. John Zigarlick, Jr. was a visionary mine-maker and company-builder who left an enduring legacy in Canada’s North through innovative infrastructure development and the formation of progressive Aboriginal business partnerships.
Last summer, in an interview with MINING.com, Rob McEwen said we are at the beginning of an uptrend for gold, and stated the importance of preserving the upside for shareholders. View the video here