“Call me Luke.” Thus introduced, we sat down to talk about his career, his company, and mining copper. Luke is a civil engineering graduate of the University of British Columbia. He spent the first five years working for consultants in the United States and British Columbia on tailings facilities. “That way I learnt part of what makes a mine work,” he assured me, as the names of the mines slip easily from him: Kennecott, Dome, Campbell.
Then he shipped off to Greece as part of a team to get the Kassandra Mine going after its privatization. A year later he was in Peru with Klohn-Crippen and then AMEC. Here he met the former president & CEO of Panoro Minerals Ltd and came to know the company. He soon bought shares in the company and some twelve years later when the president retired, Luke took on the role.
Along the way he obtained an MBA from Simon Fraser University. “I always wanted to run things, and the MBA helped.”
As we sat chatting today, you could feel the calm confidence and enthusiasm that makes a civil engineer the president of a junior mining company seeking to develop copper mines in Peru.
“We are but one of many juniors, but we are prospering even in the present situation,” he noted.
“What makes for a potentially successful junior mining company?” I asked.
With a sense of pride, he replied: “Good projects, money, permits, experienced management, and the energy to publicize and promote the company.” I was chatting with Luke because I had been persuaded to meet with him, and I had agreed to on the basis that I may come across a good blog topic. Obviously a UBC civil engineer, trained in tailings, and now running a successful junior mining company is good blog material.
His company, Panoro Minerals, has deposits in southern Peru. They are drilling, proving resources, and seeking to advance the promises to reality. “In a two to four-year time frame,” is Luke’s vision. “Our goals are the preliminary economic assessment and then a bankable feasibility study.”
He praises Peru as a good mining place: “It has water, power, labor, supportive politics, and great potential.”
And so we slipped into informal discussion of consultants, schools, roads, raising money, investing, confidentiality agreements, selling or partnering mines to the majors, auctioning off good deposits, and the ever-increasing role of the Chinese in mining prospects and ventures. He promised me that one day we will smoke a good cigar at the crest of the new tailings facility to celebrate start of mining. (That is the only promised reward I get for writing this piece.)
Luke teased me about something I previously wrote of him: “He knows his facts; exudes confidence; yet is demure and almost likeable in his hopes and plans.” I wrote that after listening to a presentation he made. After sitting alone with him for longer and talking informally, I am proud of what I wrote, for I believe it is very much true of him. The only change I would make is to remove the word almost. He is likable. Go meet him if you want to really know more of his company and copper in Peru. He takes his own words to heart and is ready to promote the company.
And my challenge to him: if another young civil engineers seeks to work their way to the top of a mining company by way of the tailings department, what advice can you give?