The sage investing advice to “buy low and sell high” is a simple concept, but exceedingly hard to pull off in real life over and over again. Our Mining Person of the Year for 2015, mining executive Lukas Lundin, has repeatedly bought low and sold high throughout his career in many commodities and regions, and has accomplished the equally challenging corollary of building and growing companies during industry downturns.
Born in 1958, Lukas Lundin has led a quintessential cosmopolitan life, with much of his childhood spent in Sweden and Switzerland, followed by his earning an engineering degree from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in 1981.
In 1982, Mr. Lundin headed International Petroleum Corp.’s oil and gas operations and was based in Dubai from 1990 to 1995.
His earliest successes in mining were as president of International Musto Exploration, which bought the Bajo de la Alumbrera copper deposit in Chile, which was later taken over for US$500 million by Rio Algom and North Ltd., and his leadership of Argentina Gold, which discovered the multi-million ounce Veladero gold deposit, which was taken over by Homestake Mining for US$300 million in 1999. Meanwhile in the oil sector, Lundin Oil was sold Talisman Energy for US$480 million in 2001.
Today, Lukas Lundin is atop the Vancouver-based Lundin Group of Companies, founded by his father Adolf, and now co-led by his sons Lukas and Ian.
The group’s mining companies are familiar to us all: explorer NGEx Resouces, named after Adolf’s personal motto, “No guts, no glory.”; emerging mid-tier base metals miner Lundin Mining; gold developer Lundin Gold; Lucara Diamond (Lundin is the “Lu” in Lucara), which last year in Botswana mined the second-largest gem diamond ever found, the 1,111-carat Lesedi La Rona diamond; and uranium miner Denison Mines, a once moribund company that Lundin and his colleagues have transformed into a go-to name in the sector, even after a failed acquisition last year of Fission Uranium.
Over the last three years, deep in the heart of the mining industry’s downturn, Lundin’s companies have bought Freeport-McMoRan’s Candelaria copper mine in Chile for US$1.8 billion (Lundin Mining); Rio Tinto’s Eagle nickel-copper project in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for $325 million, which is now in production (Lundin Mining); and Kinross Gold’s spectacular Fruta del Norte gold deposit in Ecuador for only $240 million (Lundin Gold), which is now poised for development, as Ecuador changes its tune on foreign investment.
And yes, that is the same Kinross that bought Lundin’s Red Back Mining in 2010 for US$7.1 billion at the top of the gold market to get its hands on the prized Tasiast gold project — a purchase that has been almost completely written off in subsequent years as gold prices fell and operational difficulties emerged.
In the energy sector, the Lundin Group’s stable includes ShaMaran Petroleum, Lundin Petroleum, BlackPearl Resources, Africa Oil Corp. and Etrion. Lundin Petroleum is notably involved in one of the largest oil strikes made anywhere in the world in recent years: the Johan Sverdrup discovery on the Norwegian continental shelf.
The Lundin Group also founded a Sub-Saharan Africa-focused charity named the Lundin Foundation that is now chaired by Lukas Lundin, and supported by multiple publicly traded natural resource companies and others. Its mandate is to “provide risk capital in the form of investments into high potential small- and medium-sized businesses, helping generate wealth and employment to alleviate poverty on a sustained basis.” It also provides strategic grants to early stage innovations and for technical and managerial assistance.
A mild-mannered family man, Lukas Lundin has his wilder side, too, as an extreme skier and motorcycle enthusiast. He has participated in the Paris-Dakar motorcycle race, as well as motorbiked with his brother Ian from Cairo to Cape Town in 2006 — a journey that inspired the creation of the Lundin Foundation.