The following is a transcript of the remarks made by Stornoway Diamond president and CEO Matt Manson at the Progressive Mine Forum in Toronto on Oct. 23, where he was presented with The Northern Miner’s Mining Person of the Year award for 2016, first announced in March.
This was a surprise when I saw this on the front page of The Northern Miner back in March. It wasn’t something I was expecting.
Mining is a team sport, so I’m standing here as a representative of a team of geologists and engineers and finance people who worked for 16 years between discovery in 2001 — not by Stornoway but by Ashton and Soquem — and then to be in production by 2016.
I guess we’re getting this award because Stornoway is an example of doing something that I think is the hardest thing to do in the mining business: taking an exploration discovery and actually shepherding it all the way through to being a producer.
We want to take Stornoway further than that, but so far, so good.
We’re a Canadian company with predominantly Canadian and American shareholders and lenders, headquartered in Canada, with a Canadian mine, selling Canadian diamonds.
That story of taking it from beginning to end is getting harder and harder to do, but it used to be the typical story of Canadian mining.
It’s getting harder to do because it takes so much longer. There are so many regulatory hurdles to go through, the capital numbers are so much larger, and the investment perspectives and horizons of investors and lenders are so much shorter than ever before.
I think we were successful by being opportunistic and raising the money when we were able to, and taking it to the next step when we were able to.
We are a rare example of a mining company that took an exploration asset and it became a mine. We didn’t really have a choice in that, quite frankly, because the diamond space is not a big sector in the mining business. We didn’t have major mining companies knocking on our doors wanting to be updated on our latest drill results over time.
I always say the next mine will be a gold mine. For me, if I came back for another go at a mining career, I’d say, “Go into gold!” Because it’s a much bigger playing field and your opportunities are so much better. The diamond space is niche and much more restricted.
Having said that, it was always part of the game plan at Stornoway to build a mine. It was always the plan to buy out our JV partner, to raise the money, to do it ourselves. We were always clear on that. It was always the vision.
So I’m happy to also accept this on behalf of all the other junior mining companies who have the same vision, who have the courage to talk about a vision of growth with a crusty investor or risk-averse board. We went through all of that.
It’s still a work in progress, but thank you very much.
Watch Matt Manson’s acceptance speech at the Progressive Mine Forum on the livefeed recording on The Northern Miner’s YouTube channel (from 1:40:27 to 1:44:42):