Interview: Klaus Eckhof’s daughter Kim makes her foray into the world of mining boards
Kim Eckhof, the daughter of mining identity and AVZ Minerals boss Klaus Eckhof, is the first female to join the board of junior lithium explorer Latitude Consolidated.
And it is her first gig on a mining board. Shareholders voted Kim in as a director last week.
The mining industry has been pushing for greater female representation on boards for some time and while the majors have been aggressive in bumping up the number of women directors, the juniors are having a harder time.
“I do speak to people in the industry at conferences and it’s definitely something that comes up and is quite important,” Kim told Stockhead in a phone interview from London.
“I think it is at the front and centre of management’s minds and the board’s minds. Probably it could happen quicker, but it is heavily dominated by males.
“All we can really do is focus on making sure that we keep enticing women to get involved in the mining industry.”
Kim is doing her bit to change that by accepting a role with Latitude (ASX:LCD), which is acquiring a 70 per cent interest in the Mbeta project located in southern Zimbabwe.
The project was introduced to the company by Klaus and Mark Gasson, who continue to assist Latitude in finding further project acquisition opportunities in southern and eastern Africa.
Klaus’ other daughter, Sheena, is a non-executive director on the board of cobalt explorer Taruga Minerals (ASX:TAR), formerly Taruga Gold.
Kim previously worked at Azure Capital in Perth and RFC Ambrian in London. She is now working with Medea Capital Partners in London, a corporate advisor to resource companies.
“I was approached by Mark and Klaus whether I’d be interested in joining a board and I can’t really say no to an offer like that, to be able to work with guys like them,” she said.
“It gives me another opportunity to get involved at an early stage and rather than being the advisor to a mining company, actually be on the inside and work together with a good team of directors.”
Latitude chairman Tim Moore told Stockhead earlier in June that Kim’s far reaching connections will come in very handy for a small player like Latitude.
Kim has been in the corporate advisory world for almost a decade and has spent the past six years dealing with investors from high net worth individuals through to institutions in London.
“It’s just now in the last few months that I decided it would be a good opportunity to get on the board of a company and get a bit of exposure to that as well,” she explained.
“It’s a fantastic network that I’ve built up over those years and I can now finally talk about projects that I’m individually involved in and then provide the exposure here in Europe as well as the UK.
“Really it’s the opportunity to be able to raise capital for a company like LCD and also to use my knowledge on the corporate advisory side and assist them in any other acquisitions that they might be interested in picking up.”
Aussies like a gamble
The biggest difference between investors in Australia and London, according to Kim, is that Aussies seem to have a bigger risk appetite.
“Australian investors are quite keen on the early stage projects, or the exploration side, whereas I have found in London that investors are more interested in development and production stories,” she said.
“I guess Australian investors like the riskier stories a bit more than the UK, but it just depends on the projects and the company.”
The UK does, however, have a “deep pool of capital” for good resources stories – even exploration plays with good management teams, Kim noted.
While it is the battery metals that are certainly driving interest in the small cap resources plays at the moment, it could be uranium that captures investors’ interest in the not-too-distant future.
“The battery thematic is front and centre,” Kim said. “It has sort of reinvigorated the life into mining after all those years of everyone switching to tech.
“However, what has been creeping up, to talk about something new, has been uranium. In the last few months that has been creeping into investors’ minds again and I guess it’s a bit more of a contrarian play, but that’s something that hasn’t had a run yet.
“So I think people are keeping a close eye on that and potentially picking a time to make investments in that.”
Analysts agree uranium is on its way up.
Tina Normann, quantitative analyst at Canadian equity researcher Eight Capital, said recently that uranium is breaking out of a three-year downtrend.
The spot price was up 10 per cent month over month earlier in June and is currently on an upward trend that Eight Capital sees continuing for some time. The investment firm forecasts a price of $US29 per pound for 2018.
That could lead to renewed interest in uranium stocks and Eight Capital believes it’s a good time for investors to get into the sector.