Fresh from a Toronto dinner with Bill Clinton, where he reportedly donated a cool $10 million to the former president’s crusade against AIDS and poverty, Swedish mining magnate Lukas Lundin recently touched down at his Vancouver office.
The usually secretive Lundin agreed to sit down with a reporter at the urging of his PR agent, who was drumming up coverage of the recent merger between Lundin Mining Corp. and EuroZinc Mining Corp. On a brilliant September day, Lundin and Colin Benner, former vice-chair and president of Eurozinc, who will retain the same titles with the newly formed company, told BCBusiness their story. The pensive Lundin is a man of few words, offering succinct responses in his Swedish-inflected English. But the taciturn Swede comes to life when asked whether this is the best time to launch an acquisition campaign, with base-metal prices at historic highs. “It’s a very opportune place to be right now, when everyone thinks it’s a bubble,” he replies. “I guess they’re wrong and we’re right. Time will tell.” Asked how his job will change after the merger, Benner jokes, “There will just be more zeroes on the end.” As for the respective roles of the two in the new company, again Lundin’s colleague responds with a laugh: “Lukas is a very busy guy. He can dump and run. I’ll be the recipient of the dump.” Lundin has the athletic build of a hockey defenceman and the stern countenance of a referee who has had to break up one too many fights. He’s the Vancouver emissary of the Lundin Group of Companies, a Geneva-based conglomerate that oversees about a dozen mining and oil-and-gas companies around the world. Lukas’s brother Ian remains stationed at company headquarters in Switzerland (as was his father Adolf, until his death in September 2006), while Lukas drew the short straw and shipped out for the colonies in 1989. Today, the 48-year-old Lundin holds down the Canadian fort from his office high atop the HSBC tower on West Georgia Street. He chairs a handful of resource companies, including Lundin Mining Corp., International Uranium Corp., Red Back Mining Inc., Tenke Mining Corp., Tanganyika Oil Co. Ltd. and Valkyries Petroleum Corp. He also sits on the boards of another dozen or so resource companies, some in Canada, others in Europe. When he isn’t busy with his dozens of resource interests, Lundin spends time with his four teenaged sons, whom he has taken dirt-bike riding in Baja California, skiing at Whistler, canoeing in the Yukon, and on visits to many of his mining and oil-and-gas projects around the world. Vancouver is home base, where the single dad lives with his sons. But he spends about half his time on the road, with his trips split between Toronto and Europe. At the close of the interview, Lundin rises abruptly, turns to Benner, and begins making lunch plans, obviously relieved that his brief exposure in the media spotlight has come to an end.