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Mining is in Charles Jeannes’s blood. He grew up in Nevada, a state that is the largest producer of gold in the U.S. and would rank third or fourth in the world were it an independent country. His father was part of a small group of investors who bought and revived an abandoned gold and silver mine in Nevada. Though the venture failed after prices fell, the investment sparked an interest in mining on the part of the younger Jeannes. But he also wanted to be a lawyer. After getting a BS in business and political science from the University of Nevada, he earned a law degree from the University of Arizona, which had a mining and environmental law program, in 1983 and practiced law until 1994 as head of the natural-resources section at Woodburn and Wedge in Reno.

Jeannes eventually took a job with his biggest client, Placer Dome, a Canadian gold mining company, then moved to Glamis Gold, a Reno-based gold miner, where he was executive vice president, general counsel and secretary until Glamis merged with Goldcorp in November 2006. He became Goldcorp’s CEO in December 2008.

His company has had a tough year, dealing with water shortages in Mexico, where it operates three mines, and coping with seismic activity that has reduced production at its Red Lake mine in Ontario, Canada. In early July, Goldcorp, the second-largest gold mining company after Barrick Gold Corp., warned that those problems would cause its gold output to decline this year. Earnings fell 45 percent in the second quarter of 2012 from the same period a year earlier, to $268 million, on a 15 percent decline in revenue, to $1.1 billion.

Notwithstanding its current difficulties, the company operates low-cost mines in stable regions of the world and has a rich pipeline of new mines, analysts note. Goldcorp employs 14,000 people and has five mines in Canada and the U.S., three in Mexico and one each in Argentina, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala. It has two more under development, one in Argentina, the other in Guatemala. Those properties are valuable assets because the supply of gold, regardless of its price, is not expanding.

Institutional Investor Senior Writer Julie Segal met with Jeannes recently to discuss how Goldcorp is meeting these and other challenges.

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