It was 1996. While struggling to revive an inactive Vancouver Stock Exchange-listed company, David Seton encountered two formidable forces—legendary mining promoter Robert Friedland and the Vietnamese government. Now Friedland is the billionaire CEO of Ivanhoe TSX:IVN, Vietnam has two additional gold mines, and the once-inactive company, Olympus Pacific Minerals Inc TSX:OYM, runs those mines as it advances another Southeast Asian project to feasibility.
“We bought the first property in central Vietnam from Robert Friedland when he was Indochina Goldfields,” says James Hamilton, VP of Investor Relations for Olympus Pacific. “When we took over, we didn’t realize what he’d been telling the Vietnamese. We walked in there and only had a small resource. But they expected a full gold factory to be built right away. We said, ‘You can’t do that, you have to do all this drilling and go into feasibility.’ They said, ‘We don’t care, Friedland told us we’re going to get a gold-processing plant.’ We were kind of coerced into building a plant. It was very premature to what we’d planned to do. But it did pay off because we got access to a second property where we’ve just commissioned a state-of-the-art facility. It’s a fairly high-grade deposit and it’s a real cracker of a plant. It’s been in commission since July and we’re already over 90% recoveries.”