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Iamgold loses another top executive, shareholder revolts

Côté Gold deposit. (Image courtesy of Iamgold.)

Canada’s Iamgold (TSX: IMG)(NYSE: IAG) is searching for a new chairman after Don Charter retired on January 29, only two weeks after the company’s president and chief executive Gordon Stothart surprised the markets by announcing his departure.

The Toronto-based miner said the decision was consistent with Charter’s longstanding plans, adding that it has named Kevin O’Kane as interim chair. CFO Daniella Dimitrov, who joined Iamgold in March last year, is currently acting CEO.

Frequent leadership changes in a company can sometimes be a sign of instability or poor management, analysts say. Unexplained C-suite departures are even more concerning to investors, because of potential liabilities or scandals that could affect the stock price and the direction of the company.

Iamgold is conducting a portfolio of assets review as part of a strategy that prioritises return on investment and cash flow generation, it said

The goal is to ensure the delivery of Côté – a tier-one, generational asset in Ontario, Canada, which is expected to come online next year, O’Kane said in the statement.

The Côté mine is expected produce an average of 489,000 ounces of gold a year in its first five years and an annual average of 367,000 ounces over 18 years of planned mine-life. It would be the company’s fourth mine.

Iamgold is the 70% owner and operator, while Sumitomo Metal Mining owns the remaining 30%.

Shareholder discontent

RCF Management LLC (RCF), which has a 5.2% stake in Iamgold, said on Tuesday it was disappointed with the company’s latest moves.

In an open letter to the board of directors, the US private-equity firm said its attempts to “engage constructively” with the company have been packed with the miner’s pattern of “bad faith” interactions.

“RCF believes immediate leadership change is required to address the massive value destruction and chronic underperformance plaguing Iamgold,” it said in the statement.

It noted it plans to nominate at least three director candidates the fund believe will be able to provide “the deep mining, operational and governance experience the current Board desperately needs.”

The Canadian miner revealed last month that it was evaluating options for the Rosebel gold mine in Suriname, which would require a material capital investment in 2022 and 2023 to address certain challenges that the operation had been experiencing over the last two years.

Iamgold estimates Rosebel will require about $1.24 billion for the remaining 12 years of mine-life. Additionally, it flagged a potential non-cash asset impairment charge on the asset. Iamgold has run into delays in stripping, strategic pit pushbacks as well as issues with maintenance and the completion of required infrastructure at Saramacca, a satellite for Rosebel.

The company, with mines in North America, South America and West Africa expects to produce between 570,000 and 640,000 attributable ounces of gold in 2022.