Can IAMGOLD make the move from a mid-tier gold producer to a major? The company’s CEO sure thinks so. In an expansive interview recently taped in Nelson, British Columbia, Stephen Letwin touches on everything from IAMGOLD’s recent upward surge and why gold majors are facing serious challenges to his own upbringing and what he’s learned about leadership. For investors in the gold space, there is a lot of red meat.
Originally a senior executive in the oil business, Letwin was headhunted for the IAMGOLD chief executive position in 2010. His family and friends were initially puzzled by his decision to leave an oil career that, by his own admission, had made him “a lot of money.”
“I got a lot of pushback from a lot of friends who said, ‘Why would you take that risk?’” says Letwin. “I said, ‘I’ve got about 10 to 15 years to do something, I’d like to go and try that.’ As far as I could see, (IAMGOLD) is a great company with a great opportunity, and I took the risk, and it’s turned out to be a great opportunity.”
Lately, that opportunity has been great for both the company and shareholders. In late 2015 and early 2016 the company’s shares were trading below $2 – for the first time in the company’s history. At publication time the stock is hovering around $6.50 and seems poised for even more of a run. The company has brought costs down from over $1300/oz. to around $1000. And, the reserve life of IAMGOLD’s existing mines has been extended via a careful strategy.
“We started to focus on finding more gold in and around our infrastructure as opposed to spending a lot of money trying to find large deposits in other countries or in the same country,” says Letwin. “And, what that did for us, frankly, is it moved us significantly towards adding reserves.”
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