Special Report: The same mining executive that helped build Fosterville into a multi-million-ounce gold mine is taking the reins at junior explorer Navarre Minerals.

Ian Holland has been named as the man to succeed Navarre Minerals’ (ASX:NML) current managing director Geoff McDermott.

Holland was previously vice president, Australian operations and general manager of the renowned Fosterville gold mine for owner Kirkland Lake Gold (ASX:KLA).

He was responsible for all activities within Australia, including overseeing the Fosterville mine in Victoria which is credited with kick-starting Victoria’s gold revival.

Holland, who is a highly regarded mining executive with a strong track record of value creation, was appointed as a non-executive director of Navarre in May this year.

Navarre is hoping to replicate the success of Fosterville and is proving up ground in an extension of a multi-million-ounce goldfield right next door to one of Victoria’s largest gold mines.

“I am very excited to be taking on this role at a pivotal time in the history of Navarre,” Holland said.

“As a result of the excellent work by Geoff and the other members of the Navarre board and team over a number of years, we have an unrivalled portfolio of high-quality projects in one of the most sought-after jurisdictions on the planet.”

Before Fosterville, just east of Bendigo, came into production and claimed the title of Victoria’s largest gold mine, the 4-million-ounce Stawell mine was the state’s premier gold producer until 2008.

Navarre managing director Geoff McDermott and chairman Kevin Wilson both worked for the various companies that owned Stawell Gold Mines over the years.

McDermott led the transformation of Navarre from a private entity with a single greenfield exploration licence to one of Victoria’s most active public gold explorers with discoveries at Tandarra (near Bendigo) and Irvine (Ararat) and a pipeline of quality exploration opportunities.


Changing of the guard

Now Holland will take up the mantle from McDermott in Navarre’s pursuit to build Victoria’s next big gold mine.

“The key short-term focus will be to unlock the value and potential of the Irvine gold project through an accelerated program and in the medium term to realise the value of the broader exploration portfolio,” Holland said.

“I am looking forward to working with Geoff and the team over the transition period and leading the company through its next chapter to create value for all shareholders.”

McDermott, a founding shareholder of Navarre and who was appointed to the role of managing director in 2011, will work alongside Holland as joint managing director to ensure a smooth transition.

Holland will take over the role of managing director on April 1, 2021.

McDermott has been key in making sure Navarre is in the best financial cash position it’s ever been, with $13m in the bank.

Chairman Kevin Wilson thanked McDermott for his “tireless commitment” to Navarre, its employees and stakeholders.

“He will leave Navarre with an exceptional group of projects and in a strong financial position and we look forward to working with Ian in his new role.”


The ‘A Team’

McDermott’s and the Navarre team’s hard work has enabled the company to plan and bulk up its people and resources as it prepares for a drilling blitz in the Victorian goldfields.

Just recently the company was granted “priority status” over a key exploration licence where a ‘bonanza’ hit of 1m at 1,174 grams per tonne gold including visible gold was made but never followed up on by previous owners.

There’s no actual definition of ‘bonanza’ by the way — it’s just a way to describe speccy gold grades. But at today’s record prices that is some valuable gold.

The addition of this new exploration licence paves the way to Navarre gaining full ownership of the 400,000oz St Arnaud Goldfield — the second largest hard-rock goldfield in Victoria’s Stawell Zone, which also hosts the Stawell mine.

Navarre will have four drilling rigs on the ground by October, up from one currently, and is recruiting additional people, with the main focus on testing Irvine’s Resolution Lode prospect at the flagship Stawell Corridor gold project.

The company is undertaking step-out drilling to pave the way for an initial resource for the Resolution Lode early next year.

McDermott said he was proud to have led Navarre for the last decade.

“It’s time for a changing of the guard ahead of the next exciting phase of exploration,” he said. “Rest assured – I believe the best times for the company are ahead of it.”

This article was developed in collaboration with Navarre Minerals, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

 This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.