NovaGold is under attack from the big financial organizations and this is as you would expect. I refer to a Mineweb report that reads in part:
Citigroup this week downgraded NovaGold Resources shares from buy to hold, more than halved the target price from US$23 to $10 share, and advised the Vancouver junior company be put up for sale following what analysts called the “making of a mining disaster.” Citigroup metals analysts John Hill and Graham Wark declared, “The magnitude of underestimation is shocking to us, even in an industry rife with over-runs, casts a cloud over the equally-challenging yet earlier stage Donlin Creek (AK) gold project. The basic nature of the shortfalls also embarrasses the engineering history of Teck. We would expect pressure for strategic change. Management credibility is an issue, in our view. After the fumble at Galore Creek, we believe that a sale of the company is the best possible outcome.”
Those are pretty strong words. The real issue is whether it is management or its consultants who are to blame and who fumbled. Of course the manager is responsible regardless of the advice he gets. The manager after all chooses his advisors, directs their mode of thought and investigation, and who encourages them to fact over fiction. We know from the tale of the Emperor with no clothes, that a strong leader can get any opinion he wants from his consultants. But the idea behind a professional engineer’s signature is that society should be able to rely on the integrity of the process. Afterall it is society that accords special privileges to the professional engineer in return for a commitment to professionalism. Professional engineers cannot be allowed simply to comment on the color of the non-existent cloth and them claim they warned the crowd the Emperor was naked.
Terrible a thought as it is, maybe this is why class action law suites are a good idea when so fundamental a set of fumbles concatenates into a disaster. Simple fact is that at Galore Creek a lot of people have been hurt via share loss, reputation, or livelihood as a result of behaviour by a readily identifiable group of people who appear not to have acted fully in accordance with their managerial, fiduciary, corporate, and/or professional obligations. That is why their are lawyers: to prevent the aggrieved shooting the malefactor, and to enable the harmed to seek redress before those who failed wander off to new pastures to milk new innocent cows.
Maybe it is punishment enough to sell NovaGold and put new leaders in command. Maybe it is punishment enough to loose a plumb consulting assignment to a competitor. Maybe somebody in Teck Cominco is smarting at not getting a Christmas bonus for approving investment in NovaGold without considering the engineering realities. And maybe investors deserve once again to loose money for trusting in a government-approved process that relies on professionals to police themselves. But I cannot help wondering if here are not already individuals out there consulting their lawyers to seek redress.