Bob Sibthorpe, president, CEO and founder
Ranking: Year’s top ranked company, #1 in mining category
Market Capitalization, Dec. 31, 2011: $103.6 million
Tell us a bit about your business.
We’re a mineral exploration and development company. It’s a business where you face really long odds on the properties you own. Even though you carefully select properties, most of them don’t work out. Basically, you put together a portfolio of properties and, when you go after them you prepare yourself for failure. Everyone’s the same. So, we often look back to failed junior exploration companies and see what assets they had. That’s how we found Roxgold. It was a company, already listed, that had run out of gas. We used it as a vehicle to take on properties in Burkina Faso, Africa. We had new management brought in and raised enough capital to give it a fair effort.
How much money have you raised from investors?
We officially acquired the business at the end of 2010 and raised about $40 million 2011 and another $26 million this past February. That gives us about $34 million in cash to go forward. It gives us a comfort level that we don’t have to worry. We’re spending about $1.5 million a month now, so this will give us two years. We don’t have near enough money to go into production. When we’re ready to do that we may look at non-equity type financing.
Are you making money yet?
You have to go through an exploration period and permitting period. It can be three or four years from discovery phase to actual product. So we have about three years to go. We’re going to do a feasibility study this year. Then it’s a short permitting period where the country you’re in accepts your business and environmental plan. Then it goes to construction.
But, it’s all about the grade, and in our (Burkina Faso mine) we know we’re getting extremely high-grade results. It’s hard to find (such a good asset) any more. Most of the deposits, especially in that part of the world, are pretty low grade that would be two to three grams per tonne (GPT), which is a very small amount of gold. We’ve come across 20 GPT, which is very rare.
Why do you think you topped the Venture 50 list?
Mining companies always have an advantage in this type of context. It’s something that starts out with zero property and of no value and you can turn it into something that could be worth billions. And we immediately went from something no one had any reason to capitalize to something that can produce the kind of results people want.
You mentioned you might seek non-equity financing? You mean a takeover?
It’s an option. If another company that has better production capabilities proposes a merger or takeout then that (decision) will go to the shareholder.