Van Nieuwenhuyse steps down from Trilogy
Founder, CEO resigns; Gowans takes reins as interim executive
Last updated 9/13/2019 at 4:20am
After 15 years of leading the effort to unlock the vast mineral potential of the Ambler Mining District, Rick Van Nieuwenhuyse has turned in his resignation as president, CEO and director of Trilogy Metals Inc.
Van Nieuwenhuyse, who told Mining News that he needed some time to handle personal matters, will remain as a consultant to the company and will assist with transitional matters and with advancing the company’s interests in Alaska.
Jim Gowans – former president and CEO of Arizona Mining Inc. and current Trilogy Metals director – will fill in as interim president and CEO until the board finds a permanent replacement for the company’s top executive position.
Van Nieuwenhuyse’s sudden departure comes at a time when Trilogy is on the cusp of completing a feasibility study for developing a mine at Arctic, the most advanced project in the Ambler Mining District, as well as approaching the deadline for South32 Ltd.’s option to acquire a 50 percent joint venture interest in Trilogy’s properties in the district for US$150 million.
Known as the Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects (UKMP), these properties cover roughly 355,323 acres of Northwest Alaska rich in base and precious metals.
While still president and CEO of Novagold Resources Inc., a company he founded 1997, Van Nieuwenhuyse negotiated the acquisition of the world-class Arctic deposit and dozens of similar volcanogenic massive sulfide prospects located on state, federal and patented mining claims spanning the Ambler District.
Upon the forming of Trilogy in 2011, he negotiated a deal with NANA Corp., the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) regional corporation for Northwest Alaska, for Bornite and a number of other copper-rich prospects across a large package of NANA lands in the region.
Together, Arctic and Bornite now host roughly 8.9 billion pounds of copper, 3.6 billion lb of zinc, 626 million lb of lead, 77 million lb of cobalt, 770,000 ounces of gold and 58.3 million oz of silver.
Permitting for a mine at Arctic is expected to get underway by early 2020 and a preliminary economic assessment that provides a first look at mining Bornite is expected soon.
In addition to advancing Arctic and Bornite toward development, Van Nieuwenhuyse spearheaded a concerted effort to get a road built into the Ambler Mining District, a key piece to unlocking the vast mineral potential of this remote region. This effort culminated in the recent issuance of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Ambler Mining District Industrial Access Project, a proposed 211-mile road that will link UKMP to world-markets via Alaska’s road, rail and port infrastructure.
Van Nieuwenhuyse also told Mining News that he will continue working with stakeholders in the region and across Alaska, as well as federal and state officials involved with the proposed Ambler Road and Arctic Mine projects.
The rest of the efforts started by Van Nieuwenhuyse will be continued under the leadership of Gowans until a permanent Trilogy Metals top executive is found.
Gowans is a capable mining executive whose former company, Arizona Mining, was bought by South32 for US$1.3 billion in 2018. This makes him very familiar with South32, which has until the end of January to exercise its option to acquire a 50 percent JV interest in UKMP.
Prior to Arizona Mining, he spent two years as a senior advisor to the chairman, co-president and chief operating officer at Barrick Gold Corp.
Gowans also is very familiar with Alaska. He completed the feasibility study for Red Dog, oversaw the design and construction of that Northwest Alaska operation and then operated the world-class zinc mine for three years after commissioning.
Trilogy Metals said its board of directors will begin the search for a permanent CEO in the near term.