Former US Ambassador appointed Senior VP at Guyana Goldfields

…as shareholders call for leadership shake-up

Some two months after completing his three-year tenure in Guyana and retiring from the US State Department, former US Ambassador to Guyana Perry Holloway has been appointed to a top position at the Guyana Goldfields Inc.
The Canada-based gold mining company said in a statement posted on its website on Thursday that Holloway was appointed the company’s Senior Vice President of Strategy & Corporate Affairs with effect from January 1, 2019.
Holloway is a career diplomat with more than 30 years of international experience in Latin America and the Caribbean focusing on government relations, business advocacy, programme management, development, and security.
“As a member of the executive leadership team, Mr Holloway will be focused on all activities involving the Government of Guyana as well as matters relating to in-country management and corporate social responsibility,” the statement from Guyana Goldfields detailed.
In addition to being the US Ambassador to Guyana, Holloway was also Ambassador to the Caribbean Community (Caricom). He also has served in Colombia, El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, and Afghanistan. Holloway holds a Masters in International Business Sciences from the University of South Carolina and a Masters in National Resource Strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF).
“We are very pleased that Perry will be joining our team,” stated the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Scott Caldwell.
“He brings to the table an intimate working knowledge of Guyana, the Government and its people from his time as the US Ambassador. This experience will complement the excellent platform the company has already established in the areas of Government relations, corporate social responsibility and programme management,” Caldwell added.
Meanwhile, Holloway expressed excitement for his new post as well as his return to Guyana.
“I’m very excited to be joining the Guyana Goldfields team at this time. In my role as US Ambassador in Guyana, I saw first-hand how the work of Guyana Goldfields has contributed positively to the Guyanese economy and its people with gold currently being the primary driver of economic growth. I look forward to now being directly involved with this work and further strengthening the company’s in-country relationships to the benefit of both the company and the people of Guyana,” he posited.

Shareholders concern
The former Ambassador’s appointment comes at a time when shareholders of the Guyana Goldfields are calling for a shakeup of the company’s leadership reportedly over poor performance by the management and board in addition to declining stock prices.
The company said in a release on Wednesday that it received a “Requisition of a Special Meeting” of certain shareholders who, in aggregate as of December 31, 2018, own 9.45 million common shares of the company, representing approximately 5.4 per cent of the total shares outstanding in the company.
“The request for the Special Meeting is being made to consider the replacement of the current Board of Directors of the company with six new directors nominated by the [shareholders],” the missive from the company detailed.
An article published by Canada’s Saskatoon StarPhoenix newspaper on Thursday, pointed out that apart from replacing the Board members with six independent Directors, the shareholders are also looking to establish an ethics committee and launch a strategic review of the company.
The Canadian newspaper, which is part of the Postmedia Network, said that the move was the latest by shareholders in the mining industry to shake-up leadership over disappointing performance, including a successful push by hedge fund manager John Paulson to flip the Board at Detour Gold Corp and early efforts by investors in December to change management at Hudbay Minerals Inc.
According to StarPhoenix, the dissident shareholders, including former Executive Chairman and founder Patrick Sheridan, Northfield Capital Corp, Robert Cudney, Donald Ross, and Gretchen Ross, together own about 5.4 per cent of the outstanding shares. It was reported that the current Board has governed over a steep decline in the share price, which has dropped from around US$5 in June on the Toronto Stock Exchange to US$1.69 on Thursday. It briefly peaked at US$10.11 in mid-2016.
The StarPhoenix further reported that shareholders have also expressed dissatisfaction with management of the company’s gold mine in Guyana, including permitting and personnel issues.
“The current Board has made a series of seemingly irresponsible and misleading statements and generally questionable decisions that have put Guyana Goldfields’ share price into a freefall,” Sheridan said in a statement.
To this end, the Guyana Goldfields noted in its missive on Wednesday that “the company’s Board of Directors remains committed to constructive dialogue and engagement with all shareholders and will review the requisition and respond appropriately in due course.”
In its last performance review – 2018 third quarter operational and financial results in October – Guyana Goldfields reported its gold production guidance was revised downward to 150,000–55,000 ounces as grades have not rebounded as quickly as anticipated in the fourth quarter. This represents a reduction from the previous range of 175,000-185,000 ounces of gold. Consequently, cost of sales was also revised to US$1030-US$1055 per ounce and all-in sustaining costs of US$1025-US$1050 per ounce, and cash cost (before royalty) of US$660-US$685 per ounce for the year.
Meanwhile, back in August, the Canadian mining company confirmed its intentions of laying off approximately 80 local workers in a bid to consolidate its operations. Aurora Gold Mines’ Public Relations Officer, Leon Roberts had explained that the company would be focusing its operations at Aurora, located in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), thus cutting back operations from its Greenfield prospect, also located in Region Seven.
Guyana Goldfields’ Country Manager is Executive Member of the African Cultural and Development Association (ACDA), Violet Jean-Baptiste, while another ACDA Executive Member, Eric Phillips, is also a consultant with the Canadian-based mining company that is current facing the heat for its poor performance.