Giustra likes to see big where others think small.
Vancouver mining maverick’s latest target is a subterranean patch
of red earth in southwestern Mexico. In January, his new undertaking,
Leagold Mining Corp., bought the Los Filos mine from Goldcorp Inc. for
wasn’t the open pits churning out 200,000-plus ounces of the precious
metal that caught this attention — it was the untapped deposit
stretching for roughly 600 meters below.
just looked at it and thought: This is a jewel,” Giustra, 59, said in
an interview at his downtown Vancouver office, where a George Rodrigue
blue dog painting hangs at the entrance.
plan is to use Los Filos to build “a major gold producer over the next
two, three, four years,” he says. “Unless the world changes
dramatically, I think we’ll pull it off.”
has a track record of finding the sparkle in the dirt. He’s used what
he calls a grow-by-acquisition model to help build Endeavour Mining
Corp. as well as a predecessor to Goldcorp, which is now one of the
largest gold producers and Leagold’s biggest shareholder. In his spare
time, he founded Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., which became one
of the world’s biggest independent studios.
now spends about 20 per cent of his time trying to grow his wealth
across a range of interests, including an Italian olive estate
whose oils have been voted among the planet’s best,
and Thunderbird, the film production company behind the upcoming
Blade Runner sequel.
bulk of Giustra’s time is spent trying to give money away in
partnership with Bill Clinton, a close pal, and George Soros.
Leagold marks Giustra’s return to the resource sector after a
half-decade hiatus while financing for new projects had dried up
during the extended commodities downturn.
early 2016, Giustra has also acquired stakes in NewCastle Gold Ltd.
and Sandspring Resources Ltd., which are developing gold mines in
California and Guyana, and Lithium X Energy Corp., an explorer
searching in Argentina and Nevada for the metal used in electric car
— of all the money-generating things I do, it’s my favourite and the
one I understand the best,” Giustra says.
his business interests, Leagold is the one that’s currently got his
attention. Its Los Filos deposit in Mexico’s Guerrero state is twice
the size of assets that launched Endeavour and Goldcorp-precursor
Wheaton River Minerals Ltd., he says.
may be used as a base to kick off a series of deals in Latin America.
“The ownership of gold projects and mines is much more fragmented than
any other region on Earth,” says Giustra, who is Leagold’s
chairman. “There’s much more opportunity there.”
Filos produced 231,000 ounces of gold in 2016 at an all-in sustaining
cost of $878 an ounce, according to the company. Buried below its two
open pits is El Bermejal, an underground deposit that has the
potential to produce an additional 1.39 million ounces over eight
years at about half the cost, $439 an ounce. That’s because little
more than a ramp has to be built to exploit El Bermejal’s reserves —
everything else it needs has already been built for Los Filos. El
Bermejal is set to start producing in 2019, according to Giustra.
wasn’t being looked at in that way by Goldcorp because they were
focused on much bigger things,” Giustra says. “That’s why they sold it
to us, and I think we bought it at a great price.”
was born in Sudbury, Ont., into a poor immigrant family and spent his
childhood in Italy, Argentina and B.C.’s Texada Island while his
father toiled in mines as a driller and blaster. “I didn’t like not
having money,” he says. Starting in Grade 6, he says he began finding
ways to earn cash by mowing lawns, delivering newspapers, and rounding
up drowsy chickens at night — four to a hand — and loading them onto a
truck, a foul-smelling job for which he pocketed about $2 an hour.
has a knack for both success and controversy. He founded Lions Gate,
which backed films deemed too risky by the Hollywood majors. He
plunged into the olive oil business because, as he told a packed hall
of hundreds in January, of “a passion for food. It’s better than sex —
unless you’re vegan.”
assembled stakes in a clutch of Kazakhstan uranium properties in 2005
to form UrAsia Energy Ltd., which two years later was involved in a
multi-billion dollar merger. That deal landed him in controversy
following media reports that he may have benefited from Clinton’s
political influence in the Central Asian nation. Giustra has
repeatedly denied the allegations.
also unabashedly admits to his failures, including an investment in a
West Coast sablefish farm that went under: “I lost a lot of money —
even for me.”
return to resources is driven in part by unorthodox convictions about
the U.S.-led global financial system, which he sees as undermining
both his biggest business focus, gold, and the issue closest to his
heart, a more equitable distribution of wealth.
has referred publicly to U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and
her predecessors as “well-trained circus dogs” who’ve pumped money
into the financial system, bolstering the cash piles of corporations
and allowing the wealthy to binge on real estate, stocks and art. He
believes Western governments don’t want their citizens amassing gold
because it signals a loss of confidence, and are aided in “managing”
the price by Wall Street banks which don’t like the metal because it
presents few opportunities to generate fees.
a 2014 conference in Vancouver, Giustra lambasted Goldman Sachs Group
Inc.’s head commodities strategist Jeff Currie for forecasting that
gold would plunge to $1,050 an ounce by the end of the year. Giustra
said at the time if the analyst was wrong he should be obligated to
stand in the middle of downtown Vancouver’s Robson Square “in
ladies’ underwear” and sing Patsy Cline’s “So Wrong.” Currie’s
forecast was off by a year, with spot gold only falling below $1,050
at the end of 2015 — before it sharply climbed again.
is why I’m such a gold believer: It’s the only real currency that
everybody accepts that you can’t dilute and you can’t print,” says
Giustra, referring to the multi-trillion dollar global debt pile
amassed by governments, households and non-financial firms since 2000.
“All of this printing of money made a lot of people rich, it made the
banks rich, but it didn’t help the mainstream economy.”
has climbed 9.4 per cent this year amid a weakening dollar
and political friction in the U.S. and Europe.
says he holds “a lot more” gold than a traditional financial
portfolio, but declines to specify how much. He also doesn’t disclose
his net worth but disputes a common characterization that he’s a
money is an illusion,” says Giustra, who has forsworn his two children
any inheritance except an education. “I will never be a billionaire
because I will give it away faster than I’ll get there.”
by Titus-of-Voat to news