29 August 2006

Two degrees of separation revisited

Revised: 29 Aug 06

A news release late on Monday from Aurora Energy announced the appointment of Angus Bruneau and Dean MacDonald to the company's board of directors.

Dr. Bruneau and Mr. MacDonald are replacing Mr. Brian Dalton and Mr. John Baker who have resigned from the Aurora Board. Mr. Dalton and Mr. Baker, directors of Altius Minerals Corporation, a significant shareholder of Aurora, have expressed the view that the Company [sic] would best be served at this time by their replacement with two fully independent and experienced new directors. The Company [sic] would like to thank Mr. Dalton and Mr. Baker for their valuable contribution in the successful launch of Aurora.

Dalton is president and chief executive officer of Altius Minerals, the second largest share-holder in Aurora. Baker is a director of Altius and a senior partner with White, Ottenheimer and Baker.

Update: Before you go another step take a look at the biogrpahical sketches for Bruneau and MacDonald. Bruneau - who founded Fortis in 1987 and has sat on the Voisey's bay board - fits with Aurora like a glove. MacDonald, whose private sector background is in stuff like cable television, looks like a square peg in the proverbial round hole.

Altius created Aurora Energy in 2003 with Fronteer Development Group to evaluate and explore uranium-rich deposits in central Labrador. Aurora recently completed a successful initial public offering.

In 2005, Altius submitted a proposal to create a royalty trust as a way of financing the Lower Churchill project, currently being pursued by Premier Danny Williams through Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. MacDonald is the chairman of Hydro's board. According to Altius' website, the royalty trust proposal is still alive.

At the same time, Altius is also pursuing a feasibility study on a second refinery in the Come by Chance area. The study was announced in February by Premier Danny Williams and then-energy minister Ed Byrne. The announcement was highly unusual since government played no role in the entirely private venture.

In early August, Altius announced that Aurora had found significant results in its drilling on the Michelin property in Labrador.