As we look back at the career so far of Sean Boyd — Agnico Eagle Mines’ vice-chairman and CEO, and The Northern Miner’s Mining Person of the Year for 2017 — the opening words of Rudyard Kipling’s poem If come to mind: “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs …”
In the context of Boyd leading one of the world’s great gold mining companies, “keeping your head” translates to his playing a vital role in keeping Agnico secure and on track through its relentless growth phase during the tumultuous 2010s.
This all happened while almost all his competitors in the gold industry went through near-corporate-death experiences brought on by construction cost overruns, exploding operating costs, ballooning debt and technical nightmares that led to multibillion-dollar writedowns, asset sales and the swift departures of a string of CEOs, who had been filled with hubris only a few years earlier.
While there’s a certain corporate conformity at the upper echelons of the gold-mining community, Agnico Eagle has taken on the spirit of its founder Paul Penna and always stood apart and gone about business its own way.
A Boyd-led Agnico has eschewed the corporate fads that have led so many others astray, including: hedging production; seeking growth for growth’s sake; chasing megaprojects in dodgy jurisdictions or remote terrain; over-borrowing; chopping a reliable dividend; diving into ill-conceived mergers; branching out into commodities outside hard-won expertise; and eliminating grassroots exploration when metal prices fall.
Sean Boyd has also bucked wider industry trends by spending most of his career at Agnico and working his way up the corporate ladder.
Boyd is an accountant by training, having earned a B.Comm. at the University of Toronto. He was a staff accountant with Clarkson Gordon (Ernst & Young) before joining Agnico in 1985 as comptroller. From there he served as treasurer and chief financial officer from 1990 to 1996, and added vice-president to his CFO title from 1996 to 1998.
Boyd was appointed Agnico’s president and CEO in February 1998, and was co-winner with Ebe Scherkus of TNM’s Mining Person of the Year Award for 2007 in recognition of outstanding work in expanding the LaRonde gold-polymetallic mine in Quebec — Agnico’s sole mine at the time with 350 employees.
Fast forward to today, and Agnico is coming off celebrating its sixtieth anniversary in 2017 with more than 8,300 employees, and has set an annual production record of 1.7 million oz. gold at all-in sustaining costs of US$804 per oz., all while recording the fewest number of lost-time accidents, and increasing its reserves to 20.6 million oz. gold.
The Agnico empire stands today at eight mines in three countries, plus three mine-development projects.
Over the years, The Northern Miner has visited all of Agnico’s mines around the world, often with Boyd present, and his quiet assurance in carrying out his duties and focused attention is always apparent, as is the respect and affection he holds amongst Agnico’s workforce, as well as the local communities around its mines.