When Rob McEwen bought the Red Lake Mine back in 1989, he was told that the half-a-century-old Ontario gold source was near the end of its life. Instead, he turned it into one of world’s top-producing mines.
Moves like that have helped McEwen, now chairman and CEO of McEwen Mining Inc., achieve legendary status in his field. Some consider him an unconventional thinker who used a crowdsourcing contest to unlock Red Lake’s riches over a decade ago; hes also helped McEwen Mining MUX, -0.52% avoid delisting late last year ahead of a booming 2016 share-price rally.
Today McEwen has his sights on another accomplishment: getting the company that bears his name into the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.93% where precious-metals miners are scarce. To do it, he says, the company must look beyond organic growth, taking part in a rising tide of deal making in the sector. “You have to be alert and responsive when good fortune appears in front of you,” said McEwen in a recent interview with MarketWatch.
Before McEwen bought Red Lake for Goldcorp GG, +0.30% the mine — previously part of Dickenson Mines — was thought to be tapped out. But another company’s mine nearby was still producing, and geological surveys hinted at the possibility of ample deposits. “I thought there was always more room to find more gold,” McEwen told MarketWatch.
But the buried treasure proved elusive — and after boosting its exploration efforts during a 46-month labor dispute, the company was determined to strike gold.
At the time, McEwen says, he attended a Massachusetts Institute of Technology conference that introduced him to the Web, which led him to an epiphany of sorts: He could use a novel technique to “ask the world where the gold is in our mine.”
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