JOHN Welborn’s anniversary at Resolute Mining in July – a year after leaving the disappointment of iron ore development firm, Equatorial Resources – turned out to be a champagne cork-popping moment. The company had successfully implemented a management restructure in April; approved a $95m extension of its 80% Syama gold mine in Mali; and completed the feasibility of Bibiani - a $75m venture that would see the Mali mine produce a further 100,000 ounces a year for five years. On top of that, the A$120m net debt Welborn encountered on joining Resolute had been zapped by June, partly thanks to the gold price that was running at fresh highs. So, not a bad first year after the grindingly slow pace of events in the Republic of Congo where he and his Equatorial Resources toiled, mostly fruitlessly, it seems. But you can’t keep a good rugby prop down (nor should you try). By August, Resolute announced shareholders had the option of taking dividends in bullion – a bit of an eye-catching way of attracting new investors. It seemed to have worked: the firm was able to raise A$150m for Bibiani while shares in Resolute were five times higher by December. The game is to take it to 350,000 to 400,000 ounces a year, but the company driver currently remains Syama.
LIFE OF JOHN
Welborn describes himself as a rugby-playing accountant having represented the Wallabies, Western Force and even South Africa’s Sharks (unfortunately). He kept links to rugby as a Fox Sports commentator, but the lure of mining, after a period of investment banking at Investec, must have been too great. He was MD and CEO of Equatorial Resources during a period when the iron ore price summited and collapsed leaving his plans in tatters. His return to prominence at Resolute has been a storming success.
“Syama is the production and cash flow engine of the company.”
- Web Address: www.resolute-ltd.com.au