Canadian Mining Journal

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COMMENT: Can sex sell junior mines?



I thought the days of trotting out scantily clad women to entice people to buy a product were long gone. Evidently not, if Toronto-based KWG Resources manages to separate investors from their money using such an archaic and humiliating practice.

Frank C. Smeenk, president and CEO of KWG, has posted a series of interview style conversations with a beautiful blonde woman on YouTube in an attempt to sell the public on his plans for the Ring of Fire. To wit he has hired actress/product-ambassador Theresa Longo. She lobs him a softball question about the Ring of Fire and he replies at length.

Finally in episode 23, two scantily clad in women in what looks to be a Muskoka cottage setting talk about the five benefits of developing the Ring of Fire. 1. The minerals there are worth $60 billion. 2. The mineral wealth is equivalent to Alberta’s oil sands. 3. There will be 100 years of jobs. 4. Chromite is used in stainless steel. 5. The First Nations are interested in sharing the resources of the Ring of Fire.

Whether or not you agree with Smeenk’s list, what’s not to love about young women in bikini tops and short shorts?

In the Twenty-First Century there is no reason to objectify women in this fashion. Even our Prime Minister made certain that half his Cabinet is female as a matter of course in this young century. Competent women are to be found in all walks of life.

How much better it would have been for Smeenk to have sought out female geologists or mine engineers to discuss the potential of the Ring of Fire.

Selling an exploration or development project on its merits would be a more fitting way to attract investors. Perhaps the problem is that the potential of KWG’s properties has not been defined yet.

Partner Noront Resources has chosen not to move forward at the Big Daddy chromite project that is 30% owned by KWG. Instead, Noront is concentrating on the Eagle’s Nest copper-nickel-PGM-chromite deposit for which a positive feasibility study has been prepared.

KWG has an option on the Black Horse chromite deposit at the Koper Lake project that is 100% owned by Fancamp Exploration and optioned to project operator Bold Ventures. KWG can earn 80% of Bold’s interest in the chromite resource as well as 20% in any other minerals if it makes expenditures of $1.9 million by Sept. 30, 2016. (For its part, Bold is earning 50% of the project by spending $7.7 million.)

Further complicating the outlook for the company is KWG’s stated intention to bring in Chinese expertise to build a railroad to the Ring of Fire. A long standing argument revolves around whether to build an all-weather road or a railroad to move concentrates from potential mines in the Ring of Fire. First Nations have said they expect to be fully involved in building any new infrastructure in northern Ontario.

How much more civilized it would be for KWG to rely on the economic potential of its projects rather than exploiting women to attract investors. Has no one considered how many women are making their own investment decisions?

Let’s drop this sort of sexist promotion and get on with the business of mine building.


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6 Comments » for COMMENT: Can sex sell junior mines?
  1. John Don says:

    Why are the girls suddenly “NOT competent” when they are in COTTAGE ATTIRE? IF YOU LOOK AT THERESA’S OTHER WORK YOU WILL SEE SHE IS WELL READ, BILINGUAL, AND HIGHLY INTELLIGENT. Get over it! Thanks for the added publicity!

  2. Michael Farrant says:

    My name is Michael Farrant. I am a mining professional who has been in the industry for over 20 years. I have held senior roles with both majors (Barrick Gold – 6 years and Kinross Gold – 3 years) and juniors, including co-founding Commonwealth Silver and Gold Mining Inc. at the beginning of 2011 which was acquired last year by Marlin Gold Mining Ltd. During my time with Commonwealth I met Theresa Longo. Theresa helped us from time to time in promoting our Project and Company. However, unlike the stereotype of many attractive women that are hired by mining companies to provide promotional services, Theresa was much different. Theresa is well educated, having a Business degree, speaks at least four languages, English, French, Spanish and Italian, took the time to educate herself with respect to our Project and all aspects of our Company and as such, acted as an extremely well informed and knowledgeable brand ambassador for both our Project and Company, being able to speak to shareholders, stakeholders and potential investors in multiple languages. I’m sure it’s easy to assume that “sex” is being used to sell juniors if you don’t actually know Theresa or take the time to get to know her (and I can’t comment on the motivations of KWG Resources or how well they know Theresa Longo), however, I can vouch for Theresa’s knowledge and professionalism and I can tell you that in this case, the mining industry is lucky to have someone of her skillset and professionalism working with companies in what has been a difficult environment in the metals and mining space. I cannot speak to the other aspects of KWG Resources, but I can say, that in choosing Theresa Longo to provide promotional services for the company, they have chosen an individual that is both qualified and a consummate professional.

    • Ann says:

      Maybe someone should explain about stereotypes to Mr. Smeenk.

      “Sex sells,” KWG president Frank Smeenk said when asked by CBC News about the criticism.”

  3. SIMONA says:

    …my long life only in mining engineering spans over 30 years…..during all these years I fulfilled positions from designer, professional engineer, lead discipline team for a project, manager of mechanical discipline…. as a woman in a “male dominated profession”, especially in mining industry, I can openly say that our life is not very sweet….not always our managers and supervisors employ the high ethics, appreciation AND RESPECT we women deserve; I shall admit that I was always a “voice” for women in engineering and evidently it costed me a lot….but this did not diminish my love for the profession, my dedication and desire to get better and better…..as they say “women shall work twice harder than men in order to be noticed and appreciated” in spite of the fact that many of us are more knowledgeable than many men of same education and responsibility…WE ARE NOT WOMEN IN BIKINI….we are hard working women, with dignity and high ethics. Who ever came up with this “cheap” idea of promoting KWG business using women in bikini shall be excluded forever from this business……if the woman in bikini is an KWG employee in the name of all women in mining industry I will ask the Association of Women in Mining to exclude her from the industry for good. Shame on KWG upper management for accepting this idea and shame on the lady who accepted to be filmed….we women are not a lure….we are professional women…it is an affront, an insult, a disrespect for all women, not only for us women in Mining Engineering

  4. Allan Willy says:

    I thought those two young women looked like they could be my daughter and her friends enjoying an outing at the cottage and talking about Dad’s business (actually, in my case, my daughter is not at all interested in mining exploration and would never talk mining even in street clothes!). Those “bikinis” reminded me of way back in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s at a Southwestern Saskatchewan resort area where a young 20 year old woman “shocked” my relatives by wearing a not-so revealing bikini (a two-piece!). I was more shocked at the PDAC a few years back when some barely legal pretty young women strutted advertising on the convention floor looking like “those” type of girls. We have become much, much to PC these days, methinks.

  5. Cindy says:

    Theresa Longo wasn’t trying to sell mining. She was trying to promote herself using mining as a backdrop. Very shameful & selfish of her. It evidently backfired on both the mining industry & herself.

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