FORMER Gencor and BHP Billiton executive Miklos (Mike) Salamon passed away earlier this month, according to an announcement on October 25 by GEM Diamonds of which he was an independent non-executive director. He had been battling cancer for several years.
“Mr Salamon had served on the board since 2008 and made an invaluable contribution,” said GEM. “He will be greatly missed by all his colleagues on the board and by those in the company that had the privilege of working with him,” it added.
Born in Budapest in 1955, Salamon graduated with a degree in mining engineering from the University of Witwatersrand [cum laude] in Johannesburg in 1975.
In 1997, he was a co-founding director of Billiton, and oversaw the company’s listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) along with Mick Davis and Brian Gilbertson. In 2001, he oversaw the merger integration of BHP and Billiton, helping create the world’s biggest mining company.
Salamon retired from his position of executive director at BHP Billiton in 2006. Thereafter he was appointed executive chairman of New World Resources and led its IPO on the LSE in 2008. He retired from this position in 2012 and became a non-executive director of Central Rand Gold, Ferrexpo Plc and Minera las Cenizas. He was appointed to the Gem Diamonds board in February 2008.
A London-based analyst who asked not to be quoted described Salamon as “… one of the most decent guys around”. His real passion was his motorcycle and restoration business which is what we generally talked about. He always remained a normal, humble human being”.
Speaking to The Independent newspaper in 2011, Salamon declared himself not terribly interested in “short-term, cyclical things” when talking about the mining industry, preferring instead to focus on the enormous potential for consumption in China – an outlook that was not popular in that year as a price correction asserted itself in the minerals market, but which has since been born out.
“The millions of guys who try to read tea leaves and whatever – most of them, quite frankly, haven’t the faintest idea,” he told the newspaper.