Business Profiles

Laurion Mineral Exploration: Eyes on the prize

With a unique ‘one project, one focus’ approach to gold mining, Laurion Mineral Exploration is offering stakeholders significant returns on their investments, while unearthing overlooked potential in Ontario, Canada.

They say that all that glitters isn’t gold, but in the case of Laurion Mineral Exploration (Laurion), a mere shimmer is enough to inspire in-depth exploration of undervalued mining assets, resulting in impressive gold deposit yields.

Describing itself as a “small-cap, mid-stage junior exploration and development company”, Laurion is wholly focussed on its fully-owned location named the Ishkoday Gold Polymetallic Project. Found in Ontario, North-East of Thunder Bay, this flagship mining spot offers up 47 square kilometres of potential.

Choosing to focus resources on one location at a time, Ishkoday follows on from the incredible success enjoyed elsewhere: “Laurion’s Ishkoday Gold Polymetallic Project is expanding on the legacy of its high-grade past-producing Quebec Sturgeon River Gold Mine with its database of geophysics, soil geochem, channel sampling and 40,729m of drill results. Laurion is developing an open-pit model by proving the existence of near surface bulk mineralization in gold-silver and gold-zinc rich polymetallic component which extend over a 3 km x 1 km area (a collective total strike length of 9,000m).”

Having proven out its methodology and sampling accuracy, Laurion is well placed to act upon positive initial findings, which is something that has attracted stakeholders in their droves, but the company hasn’t always enjoyed large-scale success. Little less than 20 years ago, Laurion was in serious need of a top-to-toe company restructuring, not to mention a great deal of assistance to navigate it out of legal and financial hot water, all of which was tackled as soon as Cynthia Le Sueur-Aquin came on board as CEO:

“In 2003, I was appointed CEO of LAURION at a Dissident Shareholder Meeting. This appointment came with the directive to restructure the corporation and clean it of debt and legal issues. I have been CEO of the Corporation for 16 years.”

Previously a ship without a suitable captain, Cynthia’s effective leadership, she acknowledges, is contingent on astute observation and a desire to continually adapt: “People management is one of the biggest challenges and evolving skills. Generational differences mean adjusting management styles. I am always learning and am tough on myself and others when it comes to repeated behaviours and situations. I recognise that my corporation revolves and evolves through my capacity as CEO to define and communicate the corporate trajectory, to recognize and draw out the best characteristics of each of my team.”

Speaking about the volatile nature of the industry, it quickly becomes clear just how vital it is for any burgeoning company to retain a certain level of fluidity when it comes to standard practices. With the last decade proving to be tumultuous, it is only those operations that have been able to identify changing needs and adapt quickly that have survived. Cynthia notes that those which have embraced transformative practices have been fortunate enough to prosper and show signs of growth, but these are few and far between:

“The buzz words for 2019 in redefining the mining industry are ‘innovation’, ‘artificial intelligence’, ‘disruption’ and ‘empowerment’. This includes innovative ways to bring digital to life; the empowerment of a broad-based socio-economic charter to improve the way we work. I believe that prospects for the anticipated run in the next precious and base metal cycle will be driven by macro-economic factors.”

Stepping into a competitive sector and actively seeking to drive change, through wilful avoidance of standard practices, takes a huge amount of courage and confidence, but Cynthia prefers to stray from the pack and make a definite mark. She confirms this when discussing what makes Laurion stand out from its nearest competitors.

Stating clearly that she is not one to think like everybody else and shuns notions of ‘group think tanks’, Cynthia cites the expert knowledge of her team as being a crucial factor in the continued success of the company. Understanding both the macro market and the mineral sector down to the smallest minutiae allows for funding to always be found and with short mining cycles being projected for the Ishkoday project, stakeholders have not been hard to find and nor have keen workers. Cynthia hopes, however, to seriously adapt the way that working relationships are developed:

“Having to navigate cyclical cycles makes it very difficult to deliver consistency to employees. Junior exploration companies thus keep our overheads down by retaining expertise from the private sector. These are the relationships we develop and maintain. Having said that, I look forward to growing Laurion to retaining a key workforce and feel the most important business asset will be embracing new ways of unearthing talent and diversity from a largely-untapped female population and ways to employ, create opportunities and work with Indigenous communities.”

For many, the news that previously overlooked contingents of the workforce were going to be given the requisite support to flourish would be excitement enough, but Laurion has plenty more to come in the not too distant future.

With funding successfully sourced from a specialist investor group, Laurion’s growth cycles in the mineral exploration world can begin in earnest. With plans to complete six trenches, to validate projected yield numbers of up to 10 million ounces of gold, the team is set be extremely busy and while it could be all too easy to get carried away with the ‘ifs and buts’, Cynthia is remaining steadfastly rational:

“The ensuing 10 years could bring promises of a continuation of rapid change in the mining industry against a backdrop of declining ore body grades, decreasing availability of tier one mineral assets, a looming skills shortage and a continued focus on shareholder returns and activism.”

By shirking the expected operating procedures and choosing to focus solely on the Ishkoday project, Laurion is in the minority of mining companies that isn’t trying to run before it can walk. The fact that stakeholders can reasonably expect to be swimming in profitable returns in the near future is proof incarnate that Cynthia’s innovative approach is worth its weight in gold.