Nicholas Mather, president and CEO of Australian junior SolGold, is The Northern Miner’s Mining Person of the Year for 2018 in recognition of his role as the driving force behind the wildly successful grassroots team that has drilled off the world-class Alpala gold-copper deposit at its Cascabel project in Imbabura province in northern Ecuador, with potentially many more discoveries to come in the region.
The past year was a pivotal one for Toronto- and London-listed SolGold. In November 2018, it tabled an updated resource for Alpala that tallied a staggering 2.1 billion indicated tonnes grading 0.41% copper and 0.29 gram gold per tonne, or 0.60% copper equivalent (at a 0.2% copper-equivalent cut-off), plus another 900 million inferred tonnes grading 0.27% copper and 0.13 gram gold, or 0.35% copper equivalent, at the same cut-off. These numbers are based on 133,600 metres of drilling.
That translates to a contained metal content of 8.4 million tonnes copper and 19.4 million oz. gold in the indicated category, and another 2.5 million tonnes copper and 3.8 million oz. gold in inferred.
SolGold notes that Alpala has returned “some of the greatest drill hole intercepts in porphyry copper-gold exploration history,” as seen in hole 12 (CSD-16-12) returning 1,560 metres grading 0.59% copper and 0.54 gram gold per tonne, including 1,044 metres of 0.74% copper and 0.54 gram gold.
Originally formed in 2006 and involved in a high-grade gold discovery in the Solomon Islands, SolGold took its present name in 2012 and signed a fateful agreement with TSX Venture Exchange-listed Cornerstone Capital for the Alpala copper-gold project in northern Ecuador. SolGold has since boosted its stake to 85%, and this year launched a hostile offer to buy Cornerstone and consolidate ownership of the project.
Along the way, SolGold has attracted some big names as shareholders, including Australian mining giants BHP Group and Newcrest Mining, and yet has retained firm control over the asset — at least for now.
Mather is described as a geoscientist and resource entrepreneur with a more than 30-year record of exploration and resource investment in a career that has taken him to projects in Southeast Asia, Central America, Africa and Australasia, and private and listed equity markets in Australia, the U.K., Canada, Hong Kong and the United States.
He has been involved in all stages of development and financing of a full suite of commodities, including mineral sands, coal, gas, gold, oil, iron ore and base metals, and other commodity projects. He is said to have been instrumental in capital raisings of over A$500 million and the return of A$5.7 billion to shareholders via takeover.
As if his SolGold duties aren’t enough, Mather is also executive chairman of oil and gas firm Armour Energy; executive chairman of base metals junior IronRidge Resources; a non-executive director of AusTin Mining; non-executive chairman of Dark Horse Resources; and CEO of DGR Global.
Earlier this decade, he was a non-executive chairman of Orbis Gold; executive chairman of Waratah Coal; the generator and vendor for coal company Northern Energy; and non-executive director of Bow Energy.
For a glimpse at Mather’s jaunty personality, the Education portion of his LinkedIn profile notes a Bachelor of Science (Honours Geology) earned from University of Queensland, but as for any further accomplishments in academia, he adds: “Nothing of any great contribution. Rowed and played rugby. Brewed beer. Cooked and bush walked and restored an old car.”
Mather has certainly more than made up for any lost time from his school days, and the greatest contribution of his career and enduring legacy may well prove to be his colossal copper-gold discoveries in Ecuador.