MAC: Mines and Communities

Freeport CEO buys himself an eco-ranch

Published by MAC on 2010-02-07
Source: New West, AP

Stephen Seagal must be spitting-mad!

The CEO of Freeport McMoran has bought himself Sun Ranch, a conservation showpiece in the US state of Montana. There, he may enjoy his retirement while doubtless forgetting the appalling pollution bequeathed by his company's operations in West Papua.

Richard Adkerson joins (in spirit at least) three ex-Rio Tinto chairpersons who used to list gardening as their main leisure activity, in Britain's "Who's Who".

Then there was James Goldsmith (for a period the main shareholder in Newmont Gold): he also owned a large "eco" ranch in Mexico.

Nor should we ignore destructive mining supremo, Anil Agarwal of Vedanta Resources, who's bidding to inaugurate a "sustainable" university on purloined farmland in the Indian state of Orissa.

Until 1998, Sun Ranch was in the hands of Steven Seagal, a Hollywood B-Movie actor of Native American heritage, best known for his "ass-kicking" exploits in some pretty banal films, but who's also a keen environmental campaigner.

What Segal thinks about this change of ownership may be guessed at. His performance in the 1994 production, On Deadly Ground, set him against an appallingly destructive oil baron in the shape of Michael Caine.

In a memorable tirade, delivered near the film's conclusion through the mouth of  hero Forrest Taft, Seagal declares:

"...As long as there is profit to be made from polluting the Earth, companies and individuals will continue to do what they want. We have to force these companies to operate safely and responsibly, and with all our best interests in mind. So that when they don't, we can take back our resources and our hearts and our minds and do what's right!"

Sprawling Sun Ranch Sold To Mining Exec

The Madison Valley ranch, a haven of conservation and sustainability, gets a new owner.

By Amy Linn, New West

2 February 2010

The spectacular 18,500-acre Sun Ranch in Madison Valley, a showcase for eco-friendly real estate development, has been bought by the CEO of a multinational mining company, the Bozeman Chronicle reports.

The Montana ranch, a blend of conservation, development and sustainability, was put on the market last spring by owner Roger Lang for $55 million. The list price as of last Friday had dropped to $42 million.

In an interview last April, Lang told New West he decided to sell the property to free up capital for his ongoing ranch conservation efforts in Montana and elsewhere in the West.

"Ninety-eight percent of Sun Ranch is protected by conservation easements," said Lang, who made his fortune in the tech business before turning his attention to conservation. "The business plan was to sell eight to 10 home sites. But we decided that rather than battle the recession and make the business plan work, we'd take some capital off the table and put it to work buying other ranches.

"These next 3-4 years are critical from a conservation perspective," Lang added, noting that the economic downturn was making property cheaper and slowing the pace of development.

According to Bozeman Chronicle reporter Daniel Person, Lang's property was purchased on Friday by Sun Ranch Partners, managed by Richard C. Adkerson, the CEO of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, one of the world's leading producers of gold and low-cost copper. Adkerson, 62, is rated by Forbes magazine as one of the nation's highest paid executives, making $38.6 million in compensation last year.

Adkerson's newly-purchased property near Yellowstone National Park is described by the real estate listing as "an awe-inspiring masterpiece of nature representing one of the last remaining balanced ecosystems in North America." Elk, moose, grizzly and black bear, mule and whitetail deer, mountain goats, big horn sheep, wolverines, mountain lions, and pronghorn antelope roam the landscape. The Madison River feeds three creeks on the ranch, the former home of actor Steven Seagal.

Lang, who bought the property from Seagal in 1998, protected the majority of it with conservation easements that stay in place no matter who owns it. Lang told New West he would not have sold Sun Ranch now if the easements had not been in place.

Last year Lang purchased the 7,000-acre Schroeder Ranch south of Missoula, near the site of the proposed Bitterroot Resort. That tract is now being restored and a development plan created which also calls for conservation easements and sale of a limited number of home sites.

Even in the recession, well-heeled home buyers are looking for quality-of-life landscapes: places where they can see wildlife, go fishing and skiing, and play outdoors, as Lang told a New West conference last year. "Wealthy, high-end home-buyers subsidize wildlife conservation."

An irony that can't escape mention: gold and copper mining can be some of the most environmentally unfriendly endeavors in the world. Adkerson's company is not complaint-free. In 2006, BusinessWeek noted that an influential environmental group in Indonesia accused one of Freeport's local operating companies of improperly dumping more than 1 billion tons of residue in local waterways, among other charges. Adkerson denied the claim and told BusinessWeek that Freeport's practices were responsible and lawful.

Mining company CEO buys Sun Ranch near Yellowstone


1 February 2010

BOZEMAN - The CEO of a multinational mining company has bought the Sun Ranch, an 18,500-acre tract of land west of Yellowstone National Park.

Madison County Clerk and Recorder Peggy Kaatz said Monday that Sun Ranch Partners bought the ranch near Cameron on Friday. According to information filed with the Secretary of State's office, Sun Ranch Partners is managed by Richard C. Adkerson, CEO of Arizona-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold. It was unclear how much Adkerson paid for the property, which was listed at $42 million as of last Friday.

A spokesman for the mining company declined to comment.

The 62-year-old Adkerson has been the company's CEO since 2003 and is listed as one of the highest paid executives in Amer-ica by Forbes and Fortune magazines. Business Week also lists him as the director of FM Properties, Inc., a real estate investment and development company.

Former owner Roger Lang, who made his fortune in the software industry in Silicon Valley, bought the ranch from actor Steven Seagal in 1998 and put the property under a man-agement plan meant to promote wildlife and open space while continuing ranch operations. He put a large majority of the ranch under a conservation easement, then carved out 10 home lots and put them on the market for between $5 million and $8 million.

Lang, who could not be reached for comment, told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle in 2008 that he hoped the idea would make conservation profitable and lead to 1 million acres being put under conservation over the next decade.

But last April he put the ranch up for sale for $55 million, citing the economic downturn.

"I've achieved what I've wanted to do there," he told the Chronicle last year. "It's 98 percent under conservation easement, so I feel very, very good about that."

Adam DeFanti, vice president of marketing for Sun Ranch, said at the time the sale would not affect the conservation easements.

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