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Sustainability, technology, electrification are key focus for new Boliden CEO

Boliden AB is set to strive for more sustainability, technology and electrification under the company's new CEO, Mikael Staffas, while M&A will, for the time being, only play a secondary role in the corporate strategy.

"There will be a push for technology development under my leadership; there will be a push for electrification, which [is important] for us and our production but also for our customer base. And there will be an even stronger push for sustainability," Staffas told S&P Global Market Intelligence on the sidelines of the Euro Mine Expo in Skellefteå, Sweden.

He said all aspects of the sustainability spectrum — environmental, social and governance — were "extremely important" factors.

"You have to be socially acceptable with what you do, you have to be environmentally acceptable, and you need to ensure you are doing it in a financially beneficial way."

After seven years with the company, Staffas was appointed CEO earlier this year and officially took the helm June 1.

While he said there will be no major change in strategy, he highlighted that acquisitions will only play a secondary role and said he is "very happy to have 10 years of Boliden not buying anything."

"The easiest thing in the world is to buy something and lose money, Staffas said, pointing to the world's biggest mining companies, which collectively wrote off about US$200 billion, or one-third, of their market cap during the downturn, which he ascribed "very much due to buying things at the wrong time and paying way too much."

"Typically, 80% of all deals in our space don't really add any kind of value," Staffas said. "We are working very hard on taking care of what we have and making sure that we find the best brownfield investments. Now and then, we will buy something, but that is only the third part of the strategy, and it only [applies] when it is very good for us to buy something."

The base and precious metals miner and smelter earmarked half a billion Swedish kronor annually for exploration, according to Staffas. Exploration work has held Boliden's reserve life steady at 25 years, even though production doubled over the past ten years when reserves still totaled 35 years.

The company will also focus on shareholders, who could be in for higher dividends. "We have a target of having around 20% of debt on the balance sheet," Staffas said. "If we get a stronger balance sheet than this, we will consider extra dividends."