Pete Nicholson is one of RCF’s seven partners and is responsible for running one of RCF’s two Perth deal teams.
I’ve spent thirteen years with RCF now and in my current capacity head up of one of our two Perth based deal teams. Each deal team is responsible for identifying and sourcing new investment opportunities as well as managing our existing investments and making sure the right communication is happening, funding time frames and expectations are met as well as completing technical due diligence and legal obligations as part of our investment process.
Our philosophy when it comes to managing our investments are a ‘cradle to grave’ responsibility, so that when you start out with an investment it’s your responsibility to facilitate it all the way through. We don’t have someone who sources, and then someone who executes and someone who manages, it stays with us the whole way. We do this because we don’t walk into a deal thinking ‘we’ve done our due diligence so we know everything’, we understand that it’s necessary to spend anywhere up to 12 months with a company before you really understand how they operate. We think that by having the same person involved the whole way through the process provides continuity and learning which can be built upon for a better outcome for all stakeholders.
Pete has an undergraduate degree in engineering from the University of Queensland and started his career as a graduate with Western Mining Corporation (WMC) before undertaking a variety of operations roles and later becoming the company’s Underground Manager at its Longshaft mine. At a subsequent role with Canadian based nickel producer LionOre at their Western Australian nickel project, Pete was responsible for constructing the mine and its infrastructure.
Starting out as a graduate at WMC, it was necessary to complete 12 months’ underground experience in order to obtain your first class mine manager’s ticket. This included haulage, handing explosives, drilling and mobile plant operator among other roles to provide a well-rounded understanding of the underground mine operations.
After the initial 12 months, I went on to become a production and ventilation engineer and later moved into different planning roles, then shift boss for a while before becoming the underground manager at Longshaft. When the operation was flagged for sale, I left to join Canadian company LionOre and as Registered Underground Manager had significant responsibility for construction and development of the Emily Ann nickel mine. I was on site during the year it took to take the project from a set of feasibility documents through to production, overseeing construction and commissioning.
Having completed postgraduate study in applied finance, majoring in investment analysis and a diploma in financial planning, Pete joined RCF as an analyst in 2003. Pete credits the valuable experience gained in his underground mining roles with being able to provide cost savings and advice on efficiency to portfolio companies.
Pete: Using the underground experience I’ve gained, we were able to help an investment held in Peru optimize its operations by improving its processes to reduce costs and increase production. The company was an existing operator with a number of underground mines and were very good miners but were insulated and unaware of what was happening at a global level. Understanding mining at an operational level helps to quickly identify not only the practical issues and risks faced by companies, but also to recognize the opportunities available.
Ultimately RCF take the view that whilst our capital is the same as the next investors we hope to provide more than just dollars and the sensible question that should be asked by any company is ‘why should I take RCF’s dollars ahead of somebody else’s?’ The real differentiator is that our people have a unique skill set, we’ve been in mines and we’ve operated mines and can add value to our portfolio companies beyond simply providing funding.
As an organisation, RCF has held majority ownership in mines and assisted management in both set up and operation of mines, we really understand the industry and don’t get frightened by short term issues whether it be macro issues concerning commodity prices or foreign exchange rates or micro issues that are mine centric. We understand that it is helpful to have someone who has completed their due diligence and understand a good asset. Rather than walk away from an issue we’ll work through it and use our global network in terms of other means of raising debt or equity and providing advice on the best approach. It’s our depth of experience across the financial and resources industry that really sets RCF apart.
During his time as Captain of the First Response Mines Rescue Team on site in Kambalda, Pete recognized the important contribution mining operations can make to the community in rural locations.
For eight years after I graduated, I worked across nine different mine sites, living both residentially and in a fly in fly out role. I recognize the importance of the provision of services to remote or rural communities that the development or presence of mining often brings. During my time living in Kambalda, I was the Captain of the First Response Mines Rescue Team. This involved providing emergency response not just for any incident on site but providing back up to the community’s emergency services. During this period, I was also a volunteer fire fighter and a qualified industrial ambulance officer.
I was lucky enough to meet my wife during my time in Kambalda. She is a geologist and was working as part of the exploration team at another site. Personally, I found that I preferred being residential over having a FIFO roster during my time working on site as a Mining Engineer. Living as part of the broader community has its advantages in terms of quality of lifestyle, although it is not always a possibility for some companies or locations.