The “irresistible” opportunity that coaxed this mining company director from retirement
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Special Report: It was always going to take something special to lure accountant and company director Tony Teng out of retirement following the $170 million takeover of Coalworks by Whitehaven Coal in 2012.
And that’s what Teng believes he is onto with Gold Mountain Limited (ASX: GMN), the small gold explorer with designs on making a tier one copper-gold porphyry discovery in Papua New Guinea.
Teng was a co-founder and director of Coalworks and had done well enough out of the Whitehaven deal and other ventures not to have to worry about working again.
But less than two years after Coalworks was subsumed by Whitehaven, he came across an opportunity he describes as “irresistible” that would ultimately draw him back to public company life.
It was early in 2014 when Teng was approached by a party that had assembled a package of tenements along the Papuan Mobile Belt that runs through PNG and hosts world-class deposits such as Porgera, Ok Tedi, Frieda River and Hidden Valley.
This wasn’t any old grab bag of moose pasture; these were exploration licences or licence applications industry giant BHP was forced to surrender in the wake of the Ok Tedi environmental disaster.
Adding to their appeal, they lay 70km to the east-north-east of Porgera, the 24 million-ounce giant owned by Barrick Gold and Zijin Mining, in an identical geological setting.
That was enough to get Teng excited.
After doing the requisite due diligence, he helped orchestrate a deal in June 2014 to vend the tenements into ASX-listed entity Commissioner’s Gold.
Soon after, he became managing director and the company changed its name to Gold Mountain.
While Gold Mountain is yet to hit the jackpot in exploring the 2,500km2 that make up its flagship Wabag project, Teng is optimistic that it will happen – and potentially soon.
“I did well out of Coalworks but I think Gold Mountain is 10 times better,” he says.
“Hopefully 2020 is the year we deliver some big results for our shareholders and the pay-off comes.”
The first two holes of a nine-hole, 3,500m diamond drilling program at the Monoyal prospect, the most advanced of several mouth-watering targets identified within the Wabag tenements, have been completed and results are anticipated shortly.
Teng thinks it is not out of the question that Gold Mountain will be able to announce an inferred resource for Monoyal later this year, while exploration will continue to advance the other targets and identify new ones.
“There is huge tier one potential here,” Teng says.
“We want to make sure we are well funded and we want to fast-track our program as well.”
Illustrating the company’s intent to move forward rapidly, global mining executive Tim Cameron was appointed chief executive officer in October.
Cameron is an experienced project builder, most notably being part of the 20-strong “start-up” team that brought BHP’s Ekati diamond mine in northern Canada into production in the early 1990s.
Teng has no doubt that Cameron is the right person for the job and will have the ability to secure the right partner should it be required.
As large as they typically are, copper-gold porphyries are notoriously expensive to drill out. A partner with deep pockets can be useful in helping smaller companies offset this cost.
“I’m quite sure the big boys are looking at us, particularly as this is ex-BHP ground, and we might get them knocking on the door at some stage,” Teng says.