XL: First off, Lukas, I'm sure all of our readers would love to hear about what it was like growing up in the Lundin family, one of the resource industry's most successful family enterprises. Growing up, you must have had a lot of exposure to the resource sector.
Lukas: Normally at the dinner table we'd talk rocks and stocks. (laughs) That was the only thing my father talked about. I was definitely exposed to it.
XL: How old were you when you first started becoming involved in the family business?
NGEx Resources (T.NGQ) reported 701 meters of 0.67% copper and 0.30 grams/tonne gold from recent drilling at their Los Helados project in Chile. Gold mineralization was found from top to bottom in all drill results and follows an earlier report of 711 meters of 0.54% copper and 0.26 g/t gold. It’s becoming clear that NGEx could be on to a major copper-gold system, and it’s still open at depth and in several directions. Management has since expanded the drill program at Los Helados, where they hold a 60% interest.
There’s a bidding war underway for Lundin Mining (T.LUN; OMX: LUMI), as Equinox Minerals (T.EQN) announced an offer to acquire Lundin Mining for approximately C$4.8 billion in cash and shares. This comes on the heels of LUN’s proposed merger with Inmet Mining to form Symterra Corporation. Lundin Mining produces copper, nickel, lead and zinc in Portugal, Spain and Sweden.
Lundin Mining (T.LUN) is merging with Inmet Mining (T.IMN) to create a new mega base mining company called Symterra Corp (likely symbol: SYT). The new company will have five mines in Europe, $1.3 billion in cash, and no debt. Symterra will be Canada's second largest base metal miner and potentially produce more than a half-million tonnes of copper annually by 2017. Lukas will be the chairman of the board.
Erratum: Last month, we incorrectly stated the grade at Golden Band’s (V.GBN) Bingo deposit; the correct average grade is 14.43 g/t. The error was deleted in the write-up, with apologies to Ron Netolitzky. This does not change our other comments.
When Lukas Lundin was ten years old, his father – resource industry legend and X-Leaguer, Adolph Lundin – sat him and his brother down and asked, "Who's going to be the mining engineer and who's going to be the petroleum engineer?" Thus were planted the seeds of his long and storied career of developing oil, uranium, gold, copper and even iodine, in Africa, the Middle East, South America, Russia and Mongolia.
By the time he was 15 years old, Lukas was attending corporate board meetings and flying around the world looking at mines. After schooling in the United States, he was immediately off to explore for gold in Sierra Leone, running a 50-man exploration crew before he was even old enough to legally drink in a bar.
From there, he graduated to petroleum exploration, setting up shop in the Middle East and Asia as a manager of Gulfstream Resources, and then International Petroleum. With the latter, he explored for oil throughout the region, cutting some of the first exploration deals in Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and Malaysia. He describes the period as a "big adventure" – at one point, during the Iran-Iraq war, an Iranian airliner was shot down just a few hundred meters from the drill rig where he was working.
After getting that venture off and running, Lukas' attention turned to South America, where, in the course of making petroleum deals, he had heard about a promising copper-gold project that was coming up for bids. Intrigued, but lacking a background in mineral deposits, he embarked upon what would become a familiar task over the course of his career – educating himself on a new sector from the ground up by systematically seeking out and learning from those who knew the industry best.
By the time Lukas had brought himself up to speed on the Argentinean metals properties, he had developed an extensive network of contacts with some of the best geologists in the region. Tapping this, he was able to acquire and develop not one, but two major deposits – Alumbrera, which eventually sold to Rio Algom for $500 million, and Veladero, which was acquired by Barrick Gold for $300 million and is, to this day, the major's biggest porphyry deposit. (Today, the family's Tenke Mining (T.TNK) owns the largest land position in Argentina, 1.2 million hectares.)
Even while figuring out the geology of Argentina, Lukas found time to assist his father in the securing of the Tenke Fungurume mega copper project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the name sake property of Tenke Mining. He was also exploring for oil in Africa with a new start-up, Tanganyika (V.TYK) which, over the past two years, has moved from C$.90 to C$6.77, a gain of better than 650%.
Remarkably, he also found time to lead the family's charge into a new commodity: uranium.
Noting that the fundamentals for uranium seemed to suggest a bull market in the making, Lukas once again set out building knowledge and contacts. After a long search, he acquired several properties in the U.S. from a bankrupt trader, and thus was born International Uranium Corp. (T.IUC). At first, the move looked dubious when IUC debuted at $1.25 and promptly plummeted to $0.20. But the Lundin persistence and sense for business eventually won the day – IUC currently trades at near $5, with a total worth of $400 million.
Today, Lukas manages affairs for some eight different companies, working with various resources around the world. The comment has been made that resource investors could do well simply following this stable of firms. Given the track record of the Lundin family overall, and the specific initiatives spear-headed by Lukas, we agree. We'll certainly be watching his moves closely.