HOODWINKED LIHIR GOLD SEEKS NEW LEADERSHIP

HOODWINKED LIHIR GOLD SEEKS NEW LEADERSHIP

THE CEO of Queensland’s top mining company Lihir Gold Limited (LGL) stepped down today with $3.5 million plus share rights as the company looks to new leadership.

While Arthur Hood’s (pictured) contract was due to expire in September, Lihir chairman Ross Garnaut says now is the time for a new leader as the company seeks to maximise value in West Africa.

“Different characteristics of leadership would be important in the next phase of growth – better to make those changes now rather than having an extended period of uncertainty,” says Garnaut.

Garnaut applauded Hood for boosting the company’s operations since his appointment in 2005, having raised market cap to around $8 billion.

“Arthur has successfully led LGL through a major growth phase which has seen production increase from around 600,000 ounces per year in 2005 to more than 1.1 million ounces in 2009, with diversified operations in Papua New Guinea, Australia and West Africa,” he says.

Former CFO Phil Baker will step in as acting CEO and Garnaut is adamant that the search for a new CEO will be a global one.

“We were looking for someone with a focus that wasn’t as much on operations, but getting full value from assets,” says Baker.

Baker doesn’t foresee any sudden changes in strategy and the company has got very good value in its portfolio in Queensland, PNG and increasingly in West Africa through the acquisition of Equigold in 2008.

As for the sale of the Ballarat Mine, Garnaut says the bids from Australia and abroad have been ‘modest’, but should be able to bring a sale to fruition within a reasonable time frame.

Phil Baker will present Lihir’s production report for the fourth quarter of 2009 on January 22.

The share price was up 1.2 per cent at noon, trading on the ASX at $3.33.

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