Mining veteran brought in to reboot palladium mine – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – November 2, 2015)

Established in 1980, Northern Ontario Business provides Canadians and international investors with relevant, current and insightful editorial content and business news information about Ontario’s vibrant and resource-rich North. Ian Ross is the editor of Northern Ontario Business [email protected].

The last two years at North American Palladium’s Lac des Iles mine, Jim Gallagher has experienced a major company refinancing, an ownership changeover, a management reshuffle, a tailings pond issue, a round of layoffs, and the tragic death of a worker.

As the newly anointed president-CEO, Gallagher is hoping the streak of bad luck has run its course and he can now focus on the positives. “We’re setting the goal of becoming one of the best mines in the world.”

Earlier this year, the Toronto-headquartered miner was struggling under a crushing debt load until Brookfield Capital Partners recapitalized and restructured the company. Gallagher was promoted to the top job last August, replacing Phil du Toit, who resigned.

Weak metal prices in September caused the company to cut its workforce by 44 and it chose not fill 17 vacant positions. The 15,000-tonne-per-day processing mill is back to running on an intermittent mill schedule of 14 days on and off running 13,400 tonnes. It will also stop blending low-grade ore, taken from a surface stockpile, with higher-grade ore mined from underground.

The company also downgraded its 2015 mine production guidance from a range of 185,000 to 205,000 ounces of palladium for the year to between 160,000 and 170,000 ounces.

With a remaining workforce of 422, Gallagher said some workers could be called back if prices rebound sufficiently.

“They aren’t all permanent. Some is the normal restructuring that you do when it’s time to get lean.”

Gallagher is a 30-year mining veteran experienced in operations, engineering and consulting with Falconbridge and Hatch.

Upon arriving at NAP in 2013, Gallagher recognized a good ore body with a large milling facility and everything in place to run a fairly efficient mining operation.

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