WHEN the publishers of the Harvard Business Review this month said Origin Energy’s Grant King, at number 88, was the only one of its top 100 global chiefs of 2013 based in Australia, it wasn’t quite right.
Ten spots ahead of the Origin boss, at number 78, is an intensely private mining chief executive and chairman who has built an African-focused $10 billion copper miner from an office in Perth.
From the same office he is now trying to turn his company into a top-five global copper miner through a hostile $C5.1bn ($4.9bn) takeover of Canada’s Inmet.
The man is Zimbabwe-born Philip Pascall, whose 1.3 per cent stake in the copper miner he co-founded is now worth about $120m. The company is the Canadian-listed First Quantum Minerals, whose original shareholders have seen the company grow by $US9bn under Pascall’s tenure and, according to HBR, had total returns of about 2000 per cent in that time.
HBR listed Pascall’s location as Vancouver. But the technical base of First Quantum is West Perth, where the respected process engineer and fellow founder Martin Rowley — a former Bond Group executive — are based.
The company’s other founder and executive director, president Clive Newall, is First Quantum’s Vancouver-based corporate face.
The 65-year-old Pascall, who lives in the exclusive suburb of Peppermint Grove, migrated to Australia in the early 1980s after studying and working in South Africa.
Before starting First Quantum, he was project manager on Rio Tinto’s Argyle diamond mine in the Kimberley region and ran engineering and consultancy businesses.
Neither Pascall nor Rowley would speak to The Weekend Australian, despite repeated requests over the past 18 months.
But Pascall provided some emailed comments on the company’s strategy and ethos.
“We’ve focused on building a unique mining company culture,” he says.
“We dare where others don’t, we try new things out, learn from our experiences and have earned a reputation for delivering not only to budget, but before schedule in an industry prone to overrunning both.”
The company operates a flat hierarchy where the top-tier executives are accessible to everyone, he says.
The mining boss keeps a low profile in both local mining circles and the media.
In his time living in Australia, he has barely rated a mention in local or national media as he built a global mid-tier miner from scratch and the value of his personal shareholding made him one of Perth’s richer miners (although a long way from Gina Rinehart and Andrew Forrest).
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