4 Top Mining Execs Share Secrets to Success

Robert Friedland, Randy Smallwood, Ross Beaty and Bob Quartermain discuss their successes, failures and who the industry's next best CEOs may be.

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This year’s Sprott Natural Resource Symposium is in full swing, and a highlight from day two was a panel featuring Robert Friedland, Randy Smallwood, Ross Beaty and Bob Quartermain. 

Chaired by Rick Rule of Sprott US Holdings, who has long argued that good management is crucial in the resource space, the talk gave attendees the chance to learn what makes the industry’s most successful leaders tick.

The participants, billed as “living legends,” fielded questions about their past successes and failures, and discussed who the industry’s next up-and-coming CEOs may be. Read on to learn what they said.

Secrets to success

To start, Rule asked the panelists to explain what has made them successful. Friedland, who’s chairman and founder of Ivanhoe Mines (TSX:IVN), pointed to the value of teamwork, noting that a good leader will recognize that they can’t do everything and will be able to find people who can help.

Smallwood, who leads Wheaton Precious Metals (TSX:WPM,NYSE:WPM), echoed that statement, noting that when he was building his current company he knew he didn’t have all the answers, but was able to surround himself with people who did have them.

When the conversation shifted to Beaty, chairman of Pan American Silver (TSX:PAAS,NASDAQ:PAAS), he gave a different opinion. “The harder you work, the luckier you’ll get,” he said — that is, if you’re the right type of person. “I’ve discovered deposit after deposit,” he said. “I have that inner drive.”

Rule also offered up his own ideas about the characteristics that make leaders serially successful — you can read a full account of his thoughts by clicking here.

Learning from failure

When asked to describe a time he learned from a mistake, Friedland pointed to his experience in China in the 1980s. His efforts to build a mine went awry, but he learned the value of becoming familiar with local customs. Since then he’s gone on to see considerable success in the country.

Beaty mentioned he spent many of his earlier years working in difficult jurisdictions, such as Haiti, Sierra Leone and Bolivia. While he admitted that in some cases his efforts didn’t pay off, he emphasized that he embraces risk and “would go anywhere” today. After all, he said, you never know when a good jurisdiction will become inhospitable, and vice versa.

Quartermain, who’s currently executive chairman at Pretium Resources (TSX:PVG,NYSE:PVG), had a different take on risky locales, and said that after losing “pretty much everything” in Russia decades ago he decided to stick closer to home.

The rising stars

In closing, Rule asked the panelists to name a person they see as a rising star in the mining space, pointing out that the industry is facing a shortage of young leaders.

Friedland had kind words for Sam Riggall, formerly of Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO,LSE:RIO,NYSE:RIO) and Ivanhoe Mines; Riggall is now managing director at Clean TeQ Holdings (ASX:CLQ). Meanwhile, Quartermain pointed to Jonathan Awde of Gold Standard Ventures (TSXV:GSV,NYSEMKT:GSV).

For his part, Beaty said he’s not sure he believes there’s a lack of young people in the space, commenting that Ivan Bebek, Nolan Watson and Amir Adnani are just a few smart people he has his eye on. Bebek and Watson are in charge at Auryn Resources (TSX:AUG,NYSEMKT:AUG) and Sandstorm Gold (TSX:SSL,NYSEMKT:SAND), respectively, while Adnani is an exec at UEC (NYSEMKT:UEC) and GoldMining (TSXV:GOLD).

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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