So, farewell Bob Archer. But not goodbye.
Bob Archer, one of the founding directors of Great Panther Silver Limited (TSE:GPR), announced recently that he will be stepping down from his long-held position as chief executive officer.
Archer will take up a new role as non-executive director as soon as a new chief executive has been appointed.
More than 35 years' experience..
Archer has more than 35 years’ experience working for mining companies in North America, so there’s no doubt he’s served his time. But neither is he quite of retirement age yet, although a serious commitment to viticulture will undoubtedly keep him busy when full-blown retirement does come.
So what then, lies behind this decision to step down?
First, it’s worth noting that aside from institutions, Archer is the single largest shareholder in the company. If anyone has its interests at heart, he does. He is bound up with the history, the ownership and the future, so he is neither jumping nor being pushed. This is a decision that was taken internally, after long hard thought.
It should be seen in the context of the wider mining markets, which continue to move through their standard cyclical patterns. The next upswing is underway, but it’s not clear how long it will take to reach full flight. By the time it does, Archer may indeed be ready for full-blown retirement, just at the wrong, critical moment.
The time is right, now, for some serious succession planning, rather than when the markets are in full flight.
Organic growth likely to be incremental...
Because it’s also clear the evolution of Great Panther has reached a point where organic growth is likely to be incremental rather than dramatic.
Its operating silver, gold and base metals mines in Mexico have a decent track record of production, one indeed at Guanajuato that dates back many, many decades.
“But,” says Archer, “at Guanajuato we’ll never be able to build up a large reserve base.”
So, as far as major growth is concerned, acquisition and corporate activity are likely to be key.
Archer has already struck one deal in Peru with the acquisition of the Coricancha mine complex from Nyrstar. He’s likely at least to stay on to see this project into production.
But as far as the next deals are concerned, those will be left to new Vice President Corporate Development Samuel Mah and to whomever comes in as the new chief executive.
A new growth phase...
“We are entering a new growth phase,” says Archer.
“Our operations are more or less at capacity. Further expansions will require acquisitions. We would like to bring on another mine – at least one more. But we’ll bring someone new onto the board and let them take this new phase forward.”
Still, Archer is not to be rushed in this process.
“What we’re not looking for is someone who’ll come in and make wholesale changes. People enjoy working within the corporate culture that we have. What we do want is someone who knows Latin America.”
Until the right man or woman is identified, Archer will remain at the helm. But the medium-term plans are now very clear.
“It’s time to pass the baton on to someone else,” he says. “Rather than wait a few years.”
Watch this space.