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Michael Lefenfeld

MEXICO - Industry

Michael Lefenfeld

President & CEO, Cyanco


Michael Lefenfeld joined Cyanco as President & CEO in 2018. A seasoned executive in the chemicals industry, he previously served as president and CEO of SiGNa Chemistry. He has also independently commercialized several new biomedical and chemical technologies, wherein his work was recognized with the EPA’s Presidential Green Chemistry Award, the World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneer Award, and the ICIS Top Chemical Power Player to Watch. Lefenfeld has a master’s in philosophy and a master’s in chemistry from Columbia University and a bachelor’s in chemical engineering from Washington University. He holds more than 90 patents in areas including medical devices, controlled release, electronics, chemical reactivity, and IT.

"What really differentiates us from other suppliers is the end-to-end product lifecycle approach we take with our customers."

What led you to take preventative actions at Cyanco before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic?

As a global business, Cyanco saw signs early on that the COVID-19 breakout in Asia would turn into a pandemic. Once we received news that it was arriving in western markets, we quickly began efforts to protect our employees, customers, and partners. Cyanco proactively increased its protective safety measures at all plants and terminals across the globe. We closed our offices early on and strengthened our remote work capabilities. For essential workers, we made PPE mandatory, introduced social distancing measures, monitored temperatures, and required pre-entry questionnaires at all sites. We also changed operating procedures at our plants. For example, truck drivers are now required to stay in their vehicles to minimize their interaction with people. All of this began in late January/early February. Our containment efforts didn’t stop at our own facilities. Customer collaboration is important at Cyanco and we have worked closely with our suppliers and customers to share best practices and increase safety protocols across our networks. In a world where collaboration is paramount, Cyanco is using its strong customer and vendor relationships to get ahead of the COVID-19 virus. Fortunately, to date, Cyanco has not had a single incident of COVID-19 across the entire organization, at any site.

What strategies are you using to ensure there is enough inventory during times of social distancing?

Sodium cyanide is the one chemical that gold and silver mines must have to function. Without it, mines cannot extract the metal efficiently. When we first became aware of COVID-19, we focused on building our inventory levels and stabilizing our supply chains by expanding our network of delivery and raw material partners. We also worked with customers to help them increase their on-site inventories, increased our raw material supplies, and made contingency plans to cover workforce outages. Our diversified supply chain approach, including contingency plans and developing a back-up option for every part of our operations, will continue to be our model until the world becomes much safer. I’m proud to say that we have not missed a single delivery throughout the pandemic. We have also stepped up our efforts to support mines throughout the world. Cyanco primarily serves North and South America, with limited volumes going to customers in Africa and the Middle East. However, throughout the pandemic, Cyanco has become a reliable source for the global mining industry, even in Asia, where mines have approached us for cyanide and PPE. After ensuring that our existing customer base was fully supplied, we have done our best to meet the industry’s needs. We believe the trust and relationships we’ve built this year will help us broadly expand in the future.

What actions are you taking to increase the sustainability of mining operations?

Technology is the key to any successful company, not just in the chemical or mining industry, but across all industries. Since I joined Cyanco as CEO, which will be two years ago this September, the company has significantly expanded its data analytics and R&D functions. This supports our goals for organic growth and diversification. We are also increasing our ability to produce products in a safer, cleaner, and more sustainable way with a higher yield and high purity.

How has Cyanco positioned itself as one of the leading global suppliers of sodium cyanide?

What really differentiates us from other suppliers is the end-to-end product lifecycle approach we take with our customers. Our applied technology team works with mines to enhance safety and performance related to dissolving, detox, and optimizing the cyanide circuit. We work with mines to help them recover more gold from cyanide in both mills and heap leaches. We truly partner with our customers for their success—that is the key to our longevity and growth in the industry.



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