The following is a transcript of the keynote speech by Stephen Letwin, president and CEO of Iamgold (TSX: IMG; NYSE: IAG) at the inaugural Progressive Mine Forum presented by The Northern Miner on Oct. 23 in Toronto.
What I want to do is take you through a little bit of my history and hopefully share a little bit of my experiences particularly as they tie in to innovation.
I’m 62 years old. I was born in southern Ontario and raised on a farm and went to school in Ontario. I spent my first couple of years with Procter & Gamble here in Toronto, and then at the tender age of 26 I got headhunted to Calgary, Alberta, and I went to work for a fellow that 95% of you won’t know. Maybe some of you do, or remember he was sort of the Elon Musk of the oil days. His name was Jack Gallagher.
So at 26 I went to work for Jack Gallagher, who was building at that time Canada’s and in fact North America’s largest oil and gas business: Dome Petroleum. Unfortunately Jack lost his job, lost his company within three years of me getting there — not that I was tied to that, hopefully.
But Jack made the mistake that many of us tend to make, and continue to make, around debt and innovation. I’m going to tie those things together in a little bit.
Jack went out when oil was around US$25 and started acquiring properties, and started to invest in what I call “long cycle” rates of return. Big projects. He was in the Beaufort, he acquired Hudson’s Bay Oil and Gas.
Because he had fallen in love with his own equity, he did it with debt. Sound familiar?