A young emerging producer whose company has three exploration and mining projects in West Africa won top honours in a competition for junior miners at an annual international conference on Wednesday, and hopes this will help draw in investors.
Nigerian Segun Lawson, aged 39, plans to start construction of his first gold mine this year, eight years after founding his company, Thor Explorations.
Lawson, a geologist who was educated in the United Kingdom, made a brief detour into investment banking before starting Thor, which has operations in Nigeria, Senegal and Burkina Faso.
Thor Exploration says its Segilola project in Osun state, approximately 120km northeast of Lagos, is probably the most advanced gold exploration project in Nigeria.
“We’re doing exploration and feasibility studies to start mining,” Lawson told African News Agency after accepting his trophy at the annual “Investment in African Mining Indaba” in Cape Town.
The company, which is listed in Toronto, plans another listing to raise money on AIM, the London Stock Exchange’s international market for smaller growing companies.
“Raising capital has been the most difficult thing,” Lawson said.
“You’ve just got to be extremely tenacious, patient and have a very strong stomach for rejection, because you get rejected a lot.”
Thor Explorations currently employs 52 people in the three West African countries, but Lawson said this would rise to about 250 once construction started at the Nigerian flagship.
He said attending the mining indaba, which has attracted some 166 junior miners, 220 mining companies, and 350 investors, had provided a valuable opportunity to woo potential funding for Thor Explorations.
“They wanted to know what the potential is, what the projections are, and how we plan on developing our plans this year and about Nigeria’s operating environment as well,” he said.
Winning the emerging miners competition, at his very first attempt, would hopefully boost his profile and attract investors, said Lawson, who made four five-minute presentations to the judges.
‘They said it was a good project which could be scaled up and they liked my presentation,” he said.
“No one’s written me a cheque yet, but I hope they will.” (via African News Agency)