Hathor: A B.C. Mining Success Story

How junior mining company Hathor bagged the big one.

Hunting elephants | BCBusiness
Hunting elephants: When Hathor went after the big one, it came prepared with knowledge and experience.

How junior mining company Hathor bagged the big one.

Vancouver has become a global focal point for junior mining exploration companies aiming to discover the next big one, no matter where it might be. This, in turn, has generated hundreds of local mineral exploration businesses. 
However, finding a significant mineral deposit and taking it from discovery to production is 
extremely complex and involves many tiers of expertise. Most of these ambitious juniors disappear before they ever get near the motherlode. 
Still, one Vancouver-based junior has combined people, skills and assets to ascend from the pack of wannabes to the next level. In 2006 Hathor Exploration Ltd. acquired a uranium exploration property in Saskatchewan (named, appropriately, Roughrider), and based on promising drilling results, raised $50 million to finance continued exploration. In August this year mining giant Cameco Corp. launched a hostile bid to buy Hathor for approximately $531.3 million.

The Problem

For a decade, Hathor Exploration Ltd. was a typical junior miner, a shell company that spent most of its time looking for promising opportunities in whatever was hot at any given time. In 2006 it found a uranium claim in the Athabasca Basin of northern Saskatchewan. Global uranium prices were rising at the time and, although it was unproven and required some preliminary exploration, Hathor saw the Roughrider claim as a possible opportunity. Two years later it made a discovery of rich uranium indications.

Then Hathor faced the fundamental challenge of every junior that makes a big discovery: It could sell it off to someone bigger – the usual route – or it could build a business that would advance the find to the point where it had far more value.

The Solution

Hathor decided to go for it. It began converting from a bottom-tier explorer to a mid-tier developer. By 2009, it had begun building a high-powered team to lead the development, bringing in proven experts in uranium production and the nuclear power industry. New president and CEO Mike Gunning was a recognized expert in the uranium sector, having previously logged time with Teck, the Saskatchewan Geological Survey, and Triex Minerals Corp. New chair of the board James Malone was previously with Exelon Corp., a major generator of nuclear power in North America.

The team, and the acquisition of 10 other nearby properties, helped Hathor to tell a good story, which raised significant funding. The funds were put into further exploration, particularly an ambitious drilling program in three of its properties. The drilling program recently produced results beyond all expectations, showing strong indications of dense uranium deposits. 

Based on these results, Hathor was completing an economic performance model when Cameco lobbed its hostile takeover bid in late August. At the time of publication Hathor was urging shareholders not to sell. Whether it ends up being owned by a major or climbing into the highest tier as a producer itself, it’s clear the company’s strategy has paid big dividends. 


It’s all about the asset. As with any business, the underlying asset is most important. Without it, any business will have a long, difficult climb ahead.

• Bring in the big guns. If you want to hunt elephants, you need a big gun. Hathor brought in highly experienced mining people who know how to build a strong business.

Continuously reinvest. Many companies raise funding or make some initial money and then start drifting. Hathor put almost every dollar it raised back in the ground to prove the value of its asset.