TOM BUTCHER: Clive, thanks so much indeed for joining me today.
CLIVE JOHNSON: My pleasure.
BUTCHER: We have talked a lot about changing business models across the industry. How has B2Gold evolved in the current environment, if at all?
JOHNSON: Well, I think B2Gold, and our predecessor company Bema Gold before that, we definitely always pride ourselves on being on the cutting edge, of always looking at our industry and saying: “What can we do better?” At the end of the day, we have this expression that: “This is not your grandfather’s mining company.” Unfortunately, the mining industry historically was at times secretive and arrogant and not particularly respectful of citizens of other countries, perhaps, and they got away with it for a long time, frankly.
Those days are over. And a lot of people realized it, not just us. But we pride ourselves on making sure we are transparent with everyone, including shareholders, but also the countries in which we work. And I was telling a few stories today in our Q&A here about some of the things that we do in terms of being proactive (not waiting for problems with governments, or issues, or NGOs): Be proactive. Go and communicate. Be transparent. Let people know before why you are doing something, what it is about. And we have principles of fairness, respect, and transparency. That is in our DNA and our culture for a long time. I called it an extension of the Canadian culture, and I really think that it is.
So, we continue to look at how we can be the best at what we do. We are very committed, very committed to the well-being of the people in the countries we work in. And if you look at our website, you will see a tremendous amount of programs we are doing that are really sort of outside the box, or most other companies may not have thought of them. Working with local people. Meeting them. Saying: “What can we do in your community to improve the life, the standard of living?” Education, health, all those things, but what can we do that is sustainable? What can we do that, when this mine eventually ends, that we have businesses that continue? So we are looking at many exciting initiatives like that. So we will continue. You can always improve in life, and we are committed to continuing to improve all the time. But I am very proud of the way – not just the growth in our company, which has been extraordinary – but the way we have done it. The way we have done it, having all those principles, and we have adhered to them all the way along.
You know, we just went three years at the mine in the Philippines, the Masbate. Three years. Ninety-eight percent of the employees are Filipino. And this is an open pit mine that runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, heavy equipment moving everywhere, all sorts of moving parts. We have not had a loss to an accident in three years. There is no factory in America that could boast that. So sometimes, if you want to see how respectful a company is, and how well they run their mine, look at their safety track record. And we are one of the tops in the world, despite this dramatic growth. So those are the kind of things we are very proud of.
BUTCHER: Thanks so much. And one other question: what would you like conference delegates today to go away with about B2Gold?
JOHNSON: Well, two things, I guess. The first one would be part of the answer I gave about being a responsible company. We are proud to be that, and we want to be known as that. Secondly, I would think that, given that a lot of the crowd here are looking at natural resources, gold is often in its own sort of a world in a way, in many ways, in terms of the type of investors attracted to it and the role it plays in the world. But we say to people, you do not need to look at our company and buy us because you believe gold is going to go higher, or maybe we are going to find a bunch more gold. You buy us because we are very good at what we do, and we are generating a lot of cash flow, and we have grown our production from zero ten years ago to approaching a million ounces of gold a year – a very profitable production in five mines in four countries around the world.
So I think the message we want to say to people is, if gold goes up, it should be a bonus on your investment at B2Gold. Or if we find another major deposit. In the meantime, though, just look at us as a growth company that has great cash flow, very well-run, a respected, respectable company. There are only probably two or three gold companies in the world today that could make the claim that you do not buy us for your gold exposure. If that comes, that is a bonus. That is the gravy.
That is where it has been our real pleasure to be here, and be able to meet and talk to some people that often are not running gold funds per se. They are looking for investment ideas that come up with a different approach. So it has been very interesting for me, and I think a really successful conference. So we have enjoyed being here.
BUTCHER: Clive, thank you so much.
JOHNSON: Thank you.
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