You were recently appointed as President and Chief Executive Officer - what were the key factors in your decision to join Largo?
Vanadium is a speciality metal used to produce specialty steels, which is the most exciting place to be in the steel industry. Largo has a world class vanadium resource, proven metallurgy and great people. These three attributes, when put together correctly, in my experience, have always resulted in success. I believe we are on the cusp of success already and with the overwhelming passion and commitment everyone on the Largo team has, I strongly believe we will get there.
You have 34 years’ experience in the mining and metals sector – can you describe some highlights of your experience?
There are many highlights, but being associated with people who have strong personal values, are loyal and care about what they are doing; people with an unrelenting willingness to undertake the hard work necessary for success, are clearly the strong points in my memory. I would be remiss if I also did not point out the multi-year record we set (over seven years during my time there) at the Molycorp Mountain Pass facility for having no lost time incidents and almost completing Project Phoenix (it wasn't quite finished when I left) with over 5 million man hours of contractor work without a lost time incident. Maybe knowing what a difference we make by producing basic materials that significantly improve people's daily lives and doing it in a way that they don't really even know, is also a highlight.
What do you see as your greatest professional accomplishment?
Being respected for my values as a human being (Excellence, Trust, Honesty, Integrity, Creativity and Safety - the first letters of each value spells ETHICS) and respecting others who have the same basic qualities.
How do you feel this experience has prepared you to lead Largo as President and CEO?
I have had the pleasure of leading mature organizations in full production, organizations that are just starting up, and organizations in between. Largo is on the cusp of success and I feel my personal values, my ability to motivate people toward a common purpose, and my ability to communicate accurately to people inside and outside of the company, will make a difference.
Largo commenced production at its Maracás Menchen Mine in August 2014 and is currently ramping-up production – what are some challenges that you foresee? How do you plan to address them?
Every start up has its issues. Taking a project from its original concept, through a feasibility study, through detailed engineering, through construction, and then placing it into operation, can be both rewarding and challenging. The Largo team is really getting to know their process at Maracas and they are developing good, long term solutions to change the parts of the system that are causing reliability and consistency issues. My job is to make sure the right culture exists at the mine to allow the people who know best, to make the right decisions and ensure they have all the resources they need to make improvements. Our people have some of the best and most relevant experience in the world when it comes to producing vanadium. Simply put, we need to let them do their job.
And what are you most enthusiastic about?
Our people! As noted above, we have some of the most respected people in the world in terms of vanadium experience. When we create an environment of trust and confidence, our full potential will be realized. When our full potential is realized, we will create the shareholder value our shareholders expect and deserve. This all takes hard work, commitment and passion. I am enthusiastic because our Largo team exemplifies all of these characteristics.”
It is early in your tenure as President and CEO, but perhaps you could describe in very broad terms where you hope the Company will be in a year’s time?
AMost importantly, we will have a culture of success in the company. Along with that culture will come a company that is safe and sends each of its employees home at the end of every shift the same way they came into the shift; we will have consistent production and sales of vanadium that meet or exceed our goals as well as our shareholder's expectations, and our team won't be satisfied - because they know there is still a better way and they will want to find it!
What are your thoughts on the vanadium market?
Like most materials in the resource industry, vanadium has seen a reduction in it sales price. To me, the good news is that demand remains strong and the uses of vanadium continue to expand. I feel this lower price environment is temporary. The resource industry understands the simple economics of supply and demand and usually acts quickly to correct any imbalances.
Is there anything else that you would like to communicate to Largo’s investors?
I have an absolute open door policy and I hope our investors know they can call, email or come see me any time. Our investors deserve honest answers to their questions at all times and I have a strong desire to make sure they get what they deserve.