Sudbury

Terry MacGibbon, former FNX Mining executive, shares secrets to his billion-dollar success

Terry MacGibbon has been a major player in Sudbury’s mining industry.

MacGibbon has been at the helm of 4 mining companies

Terry MacGibbon has operated four successful mining companies since working underground at Murray Mine. (Twitter- @laurentianuniversity)

Terry MacGibbon has been a major player in Sudbury's mining industry.

He pulled the trigger on some million-dollar deals, including selling his company FNX Mining, and being the guiding force behind several other junior mining companies.

But during a recent Laurentian University graduation ceremony, where he was given an honorary doctorate, MacGibbon told CBC's Morning North that he issued new graduates a challenge.

"Looking forward to the next 50 years, they have to solve the climate, like climate change and it's not just a single thing that a government or a company can do," MacGibbon said. "We all have to do it."

"We all have to make our choices of how we live."

MacGibbon said he understands the challenges that come with change, especially in an industry like mining. He began his journey as an underground miner with Inco in 1968.

"I started right out of school at 21 and after 30 years I decided it was time to go out on my own and see what I could do without 'mother Inco,'" he said. "I took over a fledgling junior exploration company called Fort Knox Gold Resources. Its trading symbol was FNX and that's where the name FNX Minerals mining came from."

"I took that over and there was just one employee — myself — and it was a very bad time to make that move, because dot-com mania was going on, like weed mania is going on today, and all of the speculation of risk capital was going into the dot-com business."

His company had exploration projects from Alaska to Newfoundland, MacGibbon said, which were typically financed by risk-minded investors.

Then Inco put up several of its mines in the area for agreements to mine and process what was extracted. FNX bid on some of the sites, started work on the extraction, and Inco handled the processing at the Clarabelle Mill.

The deal was lucrative for both companies; so lucrative, he said, that it caught the eye of polish company KGHM, who bought FNX for $3.5 billion.

But even with his success, MacGibbon said there was no secret recipe for reaping such a windfall.

"It really boils down to surrounding yourself with a great team," he said. "I've got a pretty good eye for identifying a good project, much like somebody in the real estate business, would identify a good corner to build a shopping mall on, and then the next thing you've got to start thinking about is financing."

"But nobody is going to give you money without management," he said. "So I've been very fortunate to have some fabulous people to work with me."

MacGibbon said he also puts an emphasis on working with not only the shareholders, but also stakeholders.

"Whether they're the Inuit people, whether they're the workers and folks in Levack or out in Garson, one of our philosophies is that we treat all of the people with respect and and we include them in the business."

This week on One on One with Markus, a conversation with mining executive Terry MacGibbon. He cut his teeth in the mining business in Sudbury. He founded FNX Mining in Sudbury which he later sold for billions. He's also been involved in launching a handful of other junior mining companies. You'll hear more about his story in this extended interview. 11:26

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.