This year one of the big stories in mining was the
acquisition of European Goldfields by the Canadian firm, Eldorado
Gold Corporation. Since then fellow Canadian's Euromax have wasted
little time in capitalizing on this, bringing over the core of
ex-European Goldfields management team and appointing a new CEO and
president. We caught up with new Euromax Chief Executive Steve
Sharpe to find out just how the firm plan on capitalizing on this
vacant space on the European gold market.
Now you've come over from the former European Goldfields
operation to take the position of CEO and President, and the core
of the previous management has also followed. Why the wholesale
transfer of management here?
We originally looked at Euromax while we were still at European
Goldfields. We were particularly interested because of the Skouries
project being in northern Greece. We saw the Ilovitza in Macedonia
that Euromax owns has very similar characteristics. Our technical
team got very excited about the possibilities, particularly with
the infrastructure that's available and the same geological
What strength, in particular, do you feel you bring to
the role as CEO?
I think 25 years of experience in the mining sector, financing
mines largely, than operating them. But I do have a vision for this
company, that in five years time it will fill the space that
European Goldfields has vacated, and that being a purely European
gold producer. I do think that there's a particular niche in the
market that we can fill. There's lots of demand for gold -- over
the last twenty five years that's been relatively muted, but over
the last two or three years gold as a safe haven currency has taken
on new characteristics. It's a commodity that all fund managers
have to be aware of and have to hold. As a read through from that,
gold equities however come from the less stable political
jurisdictions. So for the reasons you are buying gold, the opposite
applies when you're buying gold equities. I think European
Goldfields offered that niche to investors, that's now gone with
the Eldorado transaction and I would like to see Euromax filling
that position of FTSE 250 gold only, European only, mining company
within the next five years.
Now speaking of listings of course, you're planning a
move to list in London next year, what do you hope to achieve from
this listing and most importantly does this mean you're de-listing
It certainly doesn't mean we'll be de-listing in Canada. I do
think there is a tremendous amount of value that can be added to
Euromax, particularly where it is in the development cycle.
Currently we're an exploration company moving through into
development. At European Goldfields, we had a large institutional
shareholder base and I'd like to involve those in Euromax at a much
earlier stage than perhaps they became involved at European
Goldfields. In order to facilitate that, we will need to move from
the TS Venture exchange up onto the main board of the TSX. So we
won't be de-listing from Canada, but we will be changing our
listing in Canada.
Now your recent fundraising saw you raise $6M from the
management team, rather than external sources, why the private
placement and how are you benefiting from this?
Well, we made a very conscious decision that first of all we
thought it was a good idea but secondly we wanted to demonstrate to
the existing shareholders and the market that we're backing
ourselves with our own money. In fact we turned away institutional
investment in this first round. We raised just enough to take us
through to the London listing -- the absolute minimum requirement.
Because we do think the company's considerably undervalued at the
moment and so we didn't want to raise more than we absolutely had
But what's the story with this new fundraising, how will
the money be spent next year?
It's a very straight forward story, there's a series of
incremental steps that I believe the company can take to add value
from its very low valuation at the moment. So we will initially
start by infill drilling at Ilovitza. That's rather than the
previous management had done which was to expand it resource base,
what we're looking at doing is actually improving the quality of
the resources and taking it through into development and
production. So we are immediately doing the infill-drill program
and we have three rigs on site now conducting that work. So that
infill drill program will take us through to a reserve by June of
next year at which time that will co-inside with the London
I know you were looking to shift the focus of Euromax to
a gold exploration and development company. Where do you see the
primary development for the company?
It's interesting because the flagship project of the company had
hitherto been in Bulgaria at Trun project. Because of our
understanding of Skouries, which is the European Goldfields
project, and having done a lot of the works on the economics and a
lot of the technical work based on that project, we saw the value
in Ilovitza in Macedonia. And there, there's a very clear timetable
through to development. We do the infill drilling that we will then
run into a feasibility study once we've listed in London. There's a
very clear permitting timetable, so it will see us going into
production in 2017.
Now your primary asset is in Macedonia. What makes the
country an attractive investment opportunity?
I do believe that one of the biggest issues facing the mining
industry is permitting globally. And I mentioned earlier that we
were particularly keen on having European gold production in five
years time because I think there's institutional demand for that.
The reason there's a gap in the market is that it's particularly
difficult, or perceived to be difficult to permit projects through
the environmental stage etc within Europe. Europe has all the
benefits of the infrastructure, but it's a long and drawn out
permitting process. In Macedonia, completely the opposite to what
we found in Greece. We found a young dynamic, responsive Government
who are willing to listen to what we've got to say and are willing
to work with us in terms of facilitating inward investment, both
for the benefit of the Euromax shareholders and for Macedonia as a
country. I recently met the prime minister and minister of economy
both of whom have given us their full support with this
It looks like it's going to be an eventful five years
for Euromax. Steve Sharpe, thank you very much.