Since 1915, the Northern Miner weekly newspaper has chronicled Canada’s globally significant mining sector.
When Margaret (Peggy) Witte launched her initiative to acquire and revitalize the Pamour group companies in late 1990, it was perceived in some circles as being overly ambitious if not foolhardy.
Gold prices were weak, and skeptics pointed out that she was acquiring aging, labor-intensive gold mines with production costs near US$400 per oz. And the investment community had little interest in the money-losing Giant and Pamour mines or in the complex structure of the various companies. But Witte surprised critics by completing the $35-million acquisition during a period of weak financial markets. By the summer of 1991, she managed to merge the companies into a new entity, Royal Oak Mines (TSE), which produces 200,000 oz. gold annually from operations in Yellowknife, N.W.T., and Timmins, Ont. More importantly, the restructured company is now profitable, debt-free, positioned for growth, and attracting investor interest. For this remarkable turnaround and for other accomplishments, The Northern Miner has named Witte, 38, its “Mining Man of the Year” for 1991. She is the first woman to receive the award.
Those who know Witte attribute her success to qualities that know no gender; intelligence, determination, hard work, and the ability to lead and inspire. She is charismatic without being flamboyant, and her dynamism is tempered by a practical, down-to-earth attitude that inspires confidence. She is backed by a solid team of mining professionals, including long-time business partner Ross Burns, Royal Oak’s vice-president of exploration.