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Fifteen companies later, Ross Beaty plans to go out with a bang

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(Kitco News) - On getting to a mining industry with better social acceptance, Ross Beaty said problems with tailings are holding the industry back.

Ross Beaty, chairman and founder of Equinox Gold, spoke to Kitco News earlier this month at the Metal Investors Forum in Vancouver. 

"Tailings is the one Achille's heel of the mining industry, because one tailings spill happens once a year somewhere in the world, and it's awful because it's all preventable," said Beaty.

"Look at all the crazy cost and reputational loss with the companies that have had tailings spills in the last few years.”

In January Vale's Brazilian tailings mine dam failure killed 300 people.

Beaty points to dry tailings as one innovation that makes mines safer. Instead of storing tailings in lakes, water is removed and the dry tailings are stacked.

"Some of these things are being done so well you can hardly see that there was a mine in an area," said Beaty. He said his company is moving towards the process.

On the broader issues of social responsibility, Beaty said miners are taking financial hits by ignoring environmental and corporate responsibility. He said not looking after workers gets you accidents, strikes and all kinds of labor mayhem, and not looking after the environment results in spills and fines.

"This is not rocket science. It's something that makes money," said Beaty. "If you do the job well, you can make money. You can make people happy. And you get on with life and you mine in a very responsible way.

Beaty is onto a next venture with Equinox Gold.

"I am not a gold bug per se but I just love these cyclical turns in the market, and right now gold is just a great metal to be in," said Beaty. "With mayhem in the financial world, gold is money."

Beaty noted how low gold was trading a few years ago, and believed the pieces were in place for a cyclical run. He amalgamated three companies a year and half ago to make Equinox Gold.

Equinox Gold has a mine in California and Brazil. The company is also re-starting a third mine in California, Castle Mountain. Equinox aims to produce one million gold ounces by 2023.

"I thought I would end my career with the same name as I started my career 35 years ago, a company called Equinox Resources. Fifteen companies later, this will be my last company," said Beaty. 

Beaty said you need to build big producers.

"It's a different investor market today and it really favors scale. We are just trying to become a big producer as quickly as we can."

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