NWT mine operator Dominion to appoint new chairman

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Dominion Diamond Corporation is replacing its chairman.

Bob Gannicott, Dominion’s chairman since July 2004 and a veteran of 23 years on the mine operator’s board, said he was facing “medical challenges” in a statement on Wednesday.

Gannicott has previously spent time away from the business on medical leave, most recently an eight-month absence which saw him step down as CEO on his return in July 2015.

By the end of April this year, Gannicott is expected to hand over the chairman’s role to new board appointee Jim Gowans.

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In full: Dominion Diamond Corp news release

Gowans only took over as president and chief executive of Canadian mineral exploration firm Arizona Mining at the start of the month.

The 63-year-old previously held a variety of senior positions at Barrick Gold and has also worked for De Beers. He is a past chair of the Mining Association of Canada.

“I have known Jim throughout his career, especially the parts relating to northern mine development and, later, the diamond industry,” said Gannicott in a prepared statement.

“It is with great confidence that I anticipate handing over the chairmanship to Jim in the near future.”

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Related: Ekati workers’ union says bargaining set to resume

Dominion operates the NWT’s Ekati diamond mine and also owns a share in the Diavik mine, which is a joint venture with Rio Tinto.

Last month a group of shareholders issued a call for changes at Dominion, accusing the company of pursuing the wrong growth strategy and missing chances to stabilize the price of its ailing shares.

Those concerns are not shared by all industry experts, with one telling the CBC this week that “the outlook is very attractive” for Dominion.

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However, in an apparent concession, the company also confirmed one of its most vocal detractors is now joining the board.

“Dominion also announces the appointment of Mr Josef Vejvoda to the board, who was identified and proposed to Dominion by a group of shareholders,” read the statement.

“In connection with these appointments, the group has entered into an agreement with Dominion which includes a customary standstill on the part of the group.”

Vejvoda was among the shareholders who issued December’s letter of complaint, listing eight areas of concern.

Two directors resigned, citing personal reasons, following the publication of that letter.

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