The Côté gold project in northeastern Ontario, Canada. (Image courtesy of IAMGOLD.)
Canada’s Iamgold (TSX: IMG)(NYSE: IAG) has appointed three independent directors to the board and a new chair after reaching an agreement with Resource Capital Fund VII, managed by a US investment fund that launched a proxy battle in early February.
Denver-based RCF Management LLC, which owns 5.2% of Iamgold’s issued and outstanding shares, published an open letter on February 1 alleging there was “an urgent need” for an operational turnaround at the Toronto-based miner.
The company responded by saying it had already agreed to the investment fund’s intention to nominate three independent directors, but rejected suggestions that it refused to negotiate.
RCF Management’s nominees appointed on Monday are Maryse Belanger, David Smith and Ian Ashby.
Belanger, currently a director of Pure Gold, Equinox Gold and Sherritt International, will be Iamgold’s chairperson, taking over from Richard Hall with immediate effect, the miner said.
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Smith is a director of Hudbay and Pretivm Resources, while Ashby served as president of BHP’s iron-ore operations before he retired in 2012 and is currently director of Anglo American.
Ronald Gagel would also resign from the board following the company’s 2021 year-end results, while Tim Snider would not stand for re-election at the 2022 shareholders meeting. Iamgold will look for a replacement for Gagel, it said.
The company is also looking for new top leaders, as chief executive officer Gordon Stothart left in January, providing no reason for the move, and its chairman suddenly retired earlier this month.
Frequent leadership changes in a company can sometimes be a sign of instability or poor management, analysts say. Unexplained C-suite departures are even more concerning to investors, because of potential liabilities or scandals that could affect the stock price and the direction of the company.
Iamgold is building a new gold mine in Ontario, Canada — Côté, which has experienced numerous significant cost overruns. The miner’s stock has underperformed compared to peers in the Canadian gold sector for months, trading at a discount partly because it operates in Burkina Faso, a politically unstable country where soldiers ousted the democratically elected President in a January coup.
Iamgold revealed last month that it was evaluating options for the Rosebel gold mine in Suriname, which would require a material capital investment in 2022 and 2023 to address certain challenges that the operation had been experiencing over the last two years.
The company estimates Rosebel will require about $1.24 billion for the remaining 12 years of mine-life. It also flagged a potential non-cash asset impairment charge on the asset. Iamgold has run into delays in stripping, strategic pit pushbacks as well as issues with maintenance and the completion of required infrastructure at Saramacca, a satellite for Rosebel.
Iamgold operates mines in North America, South America and West Africa and expects to produce between 570,000 and 640,000 attributable ounces of gold in 2022.
As of Monday’s morning, Iamgold shares had lost 12.2% of their value over the last year, compared to a 15.4% gain for the S&P/TSX Composite Index.
The company’s stock was last trading 1.9% higher than Friday closing, changing hands at C$3.75 each and leaving the gold company with a market capitalization of C$1.76 billion ($1.38bn).