MNN Awards: Southam hits the ground running at Mincor

NEW Mincor Resources managing director David Southam has wasted no time laying out a clear path to production for the company.
MNN Awards: Southam hits the ground running at Mincor MNN Awards: Southam hits the ground running at Mincor MNN Awards: Southam hits the ground running at Mincor MNN Awards: Southam hits the ground running at Mincor MNN Awards: Southam hits the ground running at Mincor

Mincor managing director David Southam

Mincor suspended its Kambalda nickel operations in early 2016 due to market conditions and had refocused as a gold explorer.

With the electric vehicle revolution gaining speed, the company started to turn some of its attention back to nickel, but it was the appointment of former Western Areas finance director David Southam earlier this year that started to really get things happening.

Since Southam started at Mincor on February 1, the company has signed an offtake terms sheet with BHP Nickel West, boosted its nickel resources, made a decision to divest its gold operations, acquired Independence Group's Long mine and raised A$23 million.

"It required a pretty strong team effort putting all of those things together," he said.

At the same time, Southam juggled his new role with non-executive directorships at growing gold miner Ramelius Resources and lithium takeover target Kidman Resources, the latter of which he's now stepped down from.

"For the first five months I haven't seen my family," he said.

Shares in Mincor are up nearly 15% since Southam took over.

Not bad, considering the nickel price has actually fallen slightly over the same period.

Mincor had been drifting along without a clear direction, and had lost its previous nickel focus.

"That was the opportunity," Southam said.

"Nickel is one of the toughest metals to survive in. People are looking for nickel alternatives. We're trying to present an alternative investment proposition to the market.

"I had a view you can either be consolidated or be a consolidator."

As part of Mincor's restart goal, the company last month appointed well-regarded mining engineer Dean Will as chief operating officer.

Southam said Mincor had a small team, but they were keen to take the company forward.

"The team have been great - they're very excited about what's ahead," he said.

"The board has been supportive because we really want to do something with this company.

"The market support has also been very good."

The next six months will see Mincor finalise a feasibility study into a restart of the Kambalda operations, including some potential early works.

While Southam is nominated as New and/or Emerging Leader in the 2019 MNN Awards, he's been in mining and industrials for the past 25 years, including eight years at Western Areas.

He admits it has still been quite a big transition moving to an MD role, but it was something that was probably always on the cards.

"I cut my teeth in insolvency at Ferrier Hodgson and that probably gave me the bug to run a business," he said.

"You learn about getting on with people."

At the same time, he studied accounting for seven years at night at Curtin University.

 "It was tough, but it shaped my career and work ethic."

Southam has worked at companies including Western Mining Corporation, Brambles, Australian Railroad Group and Gindalbie Metals.

It's deal-making and negotiating that he really enjoys.

"While I had accounting qualifications, I didn't want to be an accountant," Southam said.

He was grateful to Curtin for allowing him to study part-time at night and he now sits on the university's audit committee.

Southam cites Curtin vice chancellor Professor Deborah Terry as someone he admires.

"She's inspiring because she's just across everything," he said.

He also admires professional director Fiona Harris, who he sat on the board of Sundance Resources with.

"I learnt a lot from her."

While Southam admits it's challenging juggling multiple roles, he said if time is managed correctly, it's also very rewarding.

But one of his most rewarding roles, aside from husband and father, is his involvement with the Starlight Children's Foundation, where he has sat on the WA advisory board for the past nine years.

"That definitely makes up for your sins," Southam said.

"It helps bring balance and perspective."

Mincor Resources managing director is nominated for New and/or Emerging Leader in the 2019 MNN Awards.