Five questions for… Venturex Resources MD Bill Beament
He created one of the world’s biggest gold miners. Here’s why Bill Beament isn’t digging gold.
Fresh off his exit from Northern Star Resources (ASX:NST) Bill Beament is presenting a little different these days.
In his first major presentation as the managing director of Venturex Resources (ASX:VXR) the charismatic mining executive who turned the Super Pit owner into a global gold company was tieless, shirt untucked, almost a scent of Musk or Jobs.
Venturex will be renamed DEVELOP, a bespoke mining services and mining company focused on underground mining and decarbonisation.
That will include the Sulphur Springs copper-zinc mine in the Pilbara. It has already committed $10 million to drilling with the aim of improving its business case over the next year or so.
The other key limb will be providing underground mining services focused on “decarbonisation”, on the back of Beament’s own success building underground mines firstly with Barminco and then with Northern Star.
Stockhead spoke to Beament after his talk at the Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum about the DEVELOP rebrand and why battery metals are his new focus.
“Overall I just believe in the thematic of decarbonisation, we have to do it and it’s a non-negotiable.
“We need certain things to be able to achieve that from the mining industry, they’re certain set commodities and we all know what they are.
“And the other part is we need to be able to do it as efficiently and effectively as possible and that really is where underground DNA is super, super important.
“The mines of the future are going to be underground, we’ve got to reduce our carbon footprint, our greenhouse gas emissions per tonne and we’ve physically got to reduce our footprint on the Earth so what better way to play into that than underground mining?
“That underground capability is going to be hugely important in the right commodities.”
“So it’s no different to what I did in Northern Star, I built the underground DNA and capability inside that business, it just didn’t do any work for external parties.
“We built up an unbelievable owner-operator business model in there which was world-leading in performance; better than contractors to be quite honest.
“I’ve done that in my previous life at Barminco, in 8-and-1/2 years I built that business from 300 employees to 2500-3000, been there and done it twice.
“So there’s a real opportunity to build that capability up, I need it for my own assets.
“But also there’s an opportunity to provide that service to other people that do want to deliver on their promises on lowering their footprint and decarbonisation. So I think it’s a huge opportunity to deliver that to the industry and we’ll be able to do that very soon.”
“I’m not in gold full stop, mate.
“I’m purely into the decarbonisation thematic and the ingredients we need to do that. And that’s not gold, that’s copper, zinc, silver.
“The biggest impact we can ever do on this planet is the energy mix. If I look at my previous job 71% of all the greenhouse emissions of that business were from power generation.
“So that’s where you make your biggest impact is the power generation side of things.
“It doesn’t matter what technology you want to choose and there’s a list of about 10 of them which we all know, and copper and zinc are way up there on the importance of that.
“The International Energy Agency wrote a brilliant paper on this in May that shows the commodities that are very important, medium and low, and I’m fortunate that Sulphur Springs has got a couple of the critical ones we need and that’s the thematic I’m going to play in, those types of minerals. ”
“Sulphur Springs is a great project, so we’ve got about 12-18 months of good work on that to reshape that deposit, redo the capex and operating cost and we’ll end up with a much better NPV than we’ve got.
“Obviously commodity prices have risen a lot, we’re spending money on the drilling as we speak, so there’s huge value creation on that.
“You’ve got to understand when you buy stuff you potentially dilute shareholders.
“I’m a major shareholder and I want to protect shareholders and minimise any dilution possible and I’m trying to get away with none.
“So focus on Sulphur Springs, build the underground capability up which is super important, that will lead into a lot of opportunities and that means you may partner, JV stuff, other people may fund you because they know you’ve got the skillset to bring value to the table.
“We’ll explore all options, we’ll always look. I’ve already been swamped with people ringing me up as soon as I announced I was leaving and what I was going to do.
“When you lay over that underground capability and that world class DNA, there is a plethora of opportunities – we just don’t need to rush into it from day 1.
“I’ve only been here for one month and I’m sure we’ll grow the business down the track, but I’m just conscious of where my shareholders are at at the moment and I want to create value for them with what we’ve got.”
“Underground already has a vastly lower footprint than open pit mining.
“Underground has that natural edge anyway because your diesel, burnt fossil fuel in an underground mine is a very small portion.
“Again coming back to it, it’s all about power generation, power generation, power generation.
“It’s a huge input of greenhouse gas emissions, for an underground mine it’s around 70-75%, so that is the thing you’ve got to solve and you’ll make a real difference.”