Ross Beaty Pan American Silver Corp. Fourteen years ago, Ross Beaty founded Pan American Silver Corp. with one singularly ambitious yet straightforward goal in mind: building the largest and lowest-cost silver mining company in the world. After two decades as a trained geologist and mining entrepreneur, Beaty foresaw tremendous growth potential in the world silver market. Not only was silver underpriced at the time at about $5 an ounce, but Beaty saw few well-valued silver stocks available to investors. He was convinced rising demand for silver used in electronics and other industrial applications would eventually create a shortage of stockpiles, and his fledgling company began buying underperforming silver mines in Central and South America in the mid-’90s. “We are completely focused on silver because we have always believed in its superior value,” he says. “Pan American Silver is all about creating value through exposure to higher silver prices.” In that respect, Pan American’s business plan couldn’t have been more prescient. This year silver prices have hovered around the $16-an-ounce mark, spiking as high as $20 in March. By 2009 Pan American’s silver production is expected to top 25 million ounces – an impressive number even for the most discerning investors.
Born in Vancouver in 1951, Beaty graduated with a master of science degree from England’s University of London in 1971, then continued his studies at UBC, where he earned a bachelor of science (1974) and a law degree (1979). Pan American’s meteoric rise to the top of the silver mining heap began with the purchase of Quiruvilca, a Peruvian silver-zinc mine that has been in active production since 1940. Pan American quickly streamlined the operation and increased production. The resulting revenue stream helped attract new investors and facilitate the purchase of Mexico’s La Colorada mine in 1998. Small-scale production began there in 2001, followed by a major expansion of the mine that increased output to three million ounces annually by 2005. The next acquisition was Huaron, a well-established mine near Lima that produced more than 220 million ounces of silver between 1912 and 1998, when flooding forced the operation to shut down. Full-scale production resumed at Huaron in 2001 with Pan American at the helm. In 2003 Pan American bought the Alamo Dorado mine in Mexico from the Toronto-based exploration company Corner Bay Silver and embarked on an ambitious construction plan aimed at increasing the mine’s output. In 2007, its first year of operations, Alamo Dorado produced more than 1.1 million ounces of silver. Pan American then bought the Morococha mine in Peru in 2004 and increased its ownership in Bolivia’s San Vincente mine from 55 per cent to 95 per cent in 2007. One of the most remarkable aspects of the company’s success has been its ability to fast-track the development of its resources in an industry fraught with environmental and political obstacles. Beaty says the key has been targeting mining-friendly countries and making sure local communities are involved in projects that affect them. “It’s no coincidence that six of our current seven operations are in Peru and Mexico, the two most important silver-producing countries with mining-friendly environments,” he says. “We have also established good relationships with the communities where most of our workers live.” Pan American is moving ahead with the redevelopment of Manantial Espejo, an Argentinian asset it snapped up in 2006. Slated to begin production this fall, the mine is expected to produce 4.1 million ounces of silver and 60,000 ounces of gold annually. AND THE JUDGES SAY... “Outstanding entrepreneurial track record. Has created a sustainable mining company and with it has created excellent shareholder value”