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Stibbard Heads JDS Energy & Mining, The Project Manager With A Difference

Posted on December 23, 2014

JDS Energy and Mining Inc. is a Kelowna, B.C.-based project management consultancy with a difference.

“We’re not an every-day engineering company,” said JDS owner and CEO Jeff Stibbard. “We evaluate, design, build, operate and maintain mining projects for resource development clients. One of the things that makes us different is that sometimes we invest in the projects, too. We’re an entrepreneurial company and we’re always looking for a challenge.”

Stibbard said JDS acts as the owner’s representative for its clients.

“We’re part of the owner’s team,” he said. “And we make sure our interests are aligned with the owner’s interests.”

JDS has customers of all sizes in all parts of the mining world.

“We will work almost everywhere,” Stibbard said. “The places we especially like are North America, Central and South America, Southeast Asia, Australia, Africa and Europe.”

JDS has a total of about 250 employees based in Kelowna, Vancouver, Tucson, Yellowknife, Whitehorse and Hermosillo, Mexico.

The company, which Stibbard said has about 20 projects on the go at any one time, doesn’t advertise.

“We get most of our customers by word of mouth,” Stibbard said. “That approach has worked well for us. Since 2004, when we were founded, we have been growing at a rate of 50 per cent year over year.”

A native of West Vancouver, Stibbard became interested in the old mines on the North Shore as a young man. Stibbard attended British Columbia Institute of Technology, where he studied mining technology, and the Montana School of Mines.

“Both courses of study are very practical,” he said. “You learn how to start adding value for employers right away.”

After graduating from university, Stibbard worked for a number of large international miners before starting JDS.

One of his company’s clients is IDM Mining Ltd., which is working to bring its Red Mountain project near the town of Stewart in northwestern B.C. into production.

“Red Mountain is a small, high-grade project that needs more exploration,” Stibbard said. “Formerly, it was stranded in a big company as part of a larger, low-grade project. But now the project is on its own, which gives it greater upside potential.”

Discovered in 1989, Red Mountain has been explored extensively by Lac Minerals Ltd. and Royal Oak Mines Inc., with additional studies by Seabridge Gold Inc., North American Metals Corp. and Banks Island Gold Ltd.
IDM president and CEO Rob McLeod said that JDS has what the Red Mountain project requires.

“Although I’m a miner at heart, my training and experience is in exploration and development,” said McLeod. “We rely on the creative and motivated team of engineers, metallurgists and permitting experts at JDS to handle getting a mine permitted and built at Red Mountain. Their track record in engineering logistically challenging operations, particularly in Canada’s north, is exactly the skill set we need at Red Mountain.”

JDS wrote Red Mountain’s Preliminary Economic Assessment, which was announced in July 2014. McLeod says the PEA contained “several creative and simple aspects” that will “significantly” reduce capital and operating costs at Red Mountain.

“One of the biggest challenges of working in the Stewart area is the high snowfall and avalanche hazards,” McLeod said. “JDS helped to develop a creative solution in which operations are minimized during the two or three snowiest months of the year.”

JDS’s mining plan for Red Mountain, focusing on low-cost long-hole and drift in-fill mining on the highest grade portions of the deposit, suggests potential operating costs below US$500 per ounce.
McLeod said he likes working with JDS.

“They hustle,” he said. “They have attracted very senior engineers, as well as young and ambitious staff. This combination of experience and enthusiasm brings projects into production as quickly, cheaply and safely as possible.”

McLeod says JDS is “driven by success.”

“Jeff Stibbard’s right-hand man, Brent Gilchrist, won a Stanley Cup,” McLeod said. “They know how to win.”

JDS is different from other project management companies, McLeod stated.

“One of the biggest failings of both mining companies and larger firms is the tendency to over-engineer and over-size projects,” he said. “The indirect costs, with bigger workforces, larger camps supporting gold-plated operations with marble floors, have rendered many good projects uneconomic.”

McLeod said the objective of mining shouldn’t necessarily be to get every last ounce of metal out of the ground.

“Mining needs to be like any other business–making good money,” he said.