Striking retirement gold at Newmont Mining …

July 29, 2010

For many titans of government and industry, a spot on a corporate board or two is just the thing when a long career begins to draw to a close, or to bridge the gap between one endeavor and another. But what to do when you want to retire from the corporate board?

Newmont Mining Corp. (NEM) — a big gold-producing outfit with operations in the U.S., Australia, Peru and elsewhere — seems to have found one answer: Keep the departing official’s counsel by appointing them to head a new advisory board.

In this case, the bigwig is Robert J. Miller, governor of Nevada for the entire 1990s and a member of Newmont’s board for a decade since then. The company announced Miller’s retirement from the board ahead of its April 23 annual meeting, and elsewhere in the company’s proxy it noted that, Miller would be 65 years old as of March 30, and eligible for a $50,000-a-year lifetime pension from the company. (Mandatory retirement age for directors at Newmont is 72.)

At the same time, the company assured investors that Miller was leaving on good terms. “Newmont expects to be able to consult with Governor Miller from time to time and to seek his advice and guidance as needed,” the proxy said.

That might sound like like Miller would to take the occasional call from Newmont officials, as a courtesy after years of amicable involvement in the company (and as an owner of not quite 8,000 shares as of Feb. 22).

In fact, Newmont has invited Miller to head the company’s Nevada Advisory Panel, which, according to the offer letter filed with the company’s quarterly report yesterday, “will provide high-level strategic advice on Nevada political and operational issues.”

That makes the panel sound new, and it seems to be: The company’s previous filings and its website don’t mention the panel that we could find. And Chief Executive Richard T. O’Brien, in his letter to Miller, explains that

“Over the coming months, I will be outlining the composition, operating model and budget for the Advisory Panel, and will look forward to your input and advice on these issues.”

Miller’s pay for a two-year stint running the new board will be $215,000 a year, just a hair less than the $218,000 he made last year as a Newmont director. O’Brien assures Miller in the offer letter: “I anticipate that your services as Chairman would require a time commitment of no more than 275 hours per year.”

That works out to about five hours a week, at just over $781 an hour, on top of Miller’s $50,000-a-year pension. At that rate, we hope Miller’s advice on all matters Nevadan proves to be a bonanza for the company and its shareholders.

Image source: BullionVault via Flickr

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