Canadian Mining Hall of Fame to honour mining legends

The Canadian Mining Hall of Fame will honour four industry greats at its annual induction dinner on Jan. 16, 2014, in Toronto. The inductees are John (Jack) F. McOuat, C. Mark Rebagliati, Kathleen C.S. Rice, and David S. Robertson. The Northern...

The Canadian Mining Hall of Fame will honour four industry greats at its annual induction dinner on Jan. 16, 2014, in Toronto. The inductees are John (Jack) F. McOuat, C. Mark Rebagliati, Kathleen C.S. Rice, and David S. Robertson. The Northern Miner is a sponsor of the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame. For tickets and information, visit www.mininghalloffame.ca.

John (Jack) F. McOuat

(1933–2013)

John (Jack) McOuat helped advance hundreds of mines and mineral projects around the world as a founding partner of Watts, Griffis and McOuat (WGM), Canada’s longest running independent firm of geological and mining consultants. The trailblazing geological engineer rose to prominence for overcoming challenges at remote and foreign projects, notably construction of a copper-zinc mine in Saudi Arabia, in less than 11 months. He supported development of several major mines in Canada’s Far North, including Nanisivik and Raglan, and was renowned for his ability to review and select favourable projects and geological districts worldwide.

For 20 years, McOuat was the lead negotiator on behalf of mining groups in creating joint ventures to explore prospective land packages held by various Alaskan native corporations for mutual benefit. He provided sage counsel to companies pursuing growth and investment opportunities, best exemplified by the prescient participation of Teck Resources in the emerging Voisey’s Bay nickel project. He elevated the status of the industry that had sustained his career for more than 50 years, and helped introduce and promote its greatest accomplishments to the world.

Born in Toronto in 1933, McOuat came of age as Canada’s mining industry entered a post-war boom. After earning a degree in geological engineering from the University of Toronto in 1956 and a short stint in Ungava, he teamed up with Murray Watts, Arthur Thomas Griffis and Ross Lawrence to launch WGM in 1962. His belief in “going where the work is” helped introduce Canadian mining expertise to the world. WGM captured global attention and a 1982 Canadian Consulting Engineering Award for its innovative approach to developing the Al Masane underground mine in the rugged terrain of Saudi Arabia. McOuat had a keen eye for opportunities and recognized the potential of Western Australia long before his peers. His Alaskan foray led to discoveries that later developed into the Red Dog (zinc), Pogo (gold) and Green’s Creek (silver) mines.

McOuat transitioned to the boardroom by virtue of his expertise, credibility and dedication to clients. His advice was valued in Canada and abroad. When Australia’s mining industry suffered from scandal, he provided guidance to a senate committee whose 1974 report led to important reforms. He was also an expert witness in the landmark case of International Corona v. Lac Minerals, among others.

Along with helping countless companies “make mines” around the world, McOuat was a strong supporter of industry organizations and causes. In 1996, he joined the Board of Governors of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) to help raise awareness of its Earth Sciences collection. His dynamic personality was instrumental in securing the ROM’s largest corporate gift of $10 million from Teck Resources. The donation resulted in new exhibits and galleries, including the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame gallery, and helps to raise public awareness of the mining industry’s diverse contributions to society.

C. Mark Rebagliati

(b. 1943)

Few modern era geoscientists can match the prolific track record of discovery established by Mark Rebagliati in Canada and abroad over four decades. Several of his discoveries became mines in his home province of British Columbia – notably Mount Milligan and Kemess – while others were found in far-flung parts of the world. He earned his place in an elite class of mine finders known for exceptional technical skills, remarkable tenacity and hands-on leadership.

Rebagliati attended the B.C. and Yukon Chamber of Mines prospecting school and the Haileybury School of Mines before earning a degree in geological engineering from Michigan Technological University in 1969. He worked for Consolidated Goldfields, BP Minerals Canada, and other companies, and during the 1970s was a member of the discovery teams at the Red Chris project near Dease Lake and the QR project near Quesnel, B.C. QR became a gold mine and Red Chris evolved into a major porphyry copper-gold deposit that is currently in development.

The pace of discovery increased after Rebagliati established his own consulting firm and formed an alliance with Vancouver-based Hunter Dickinson (HDI) in 1986, which led to his post as HDI’s executive vice-president of exploration. His team defined porphyry copper-gold deposits at Mount Milligan and brought the project to the feasibility stage, before a major company bought it in 1990. Mount Milligan began production in 2013. Further north in British Columbia, he advanced the Kemess copper-gold project to the mine-permitting stage. Kemess operated from 2000-11.

In the late 1990s, Rebagliati contributed to Farallon Resources’ discovery of new deposits and the establishment of a massive sulphide district at the Campo Morado project in Mexico’s Guerrero state. In 2001, he led exploration of the Pebble West copper-gold deposit in Alaska, on behalf of Northern Dynasty Minerals. He was also part of the team that identified a high grade portion of the deposit called Pebble East. The Pebble deposits are ranked among the largest copper-gold deposits in the world.

As HDI expanded globally, Rebagliati’s credits grew to include the Xietongmen and Newtongmen porphyry copper-gold deposits in Tibet, since purchased by Jinchuan Mining Group for $432 million. These and other accomplishments led to many industry honours, notably the 2007 Thayer Lindsley International Discovery Award and SME’s Robert Dreyer Award in 2008. Rebagliati’s success has been attributed to his willingness to adopt new ideas and technology, his commitment to high professional standards and the rare understanding that a deposit is not static, but a continually evolving project.

Rebagliati has served the industry in other ways, including as a member of an advisory committee of Geoscience B.C. and as the author of technical papers and presentations. His expertise in porphyry deposits, based on extensive field experience, is particularly valued and has inspired others to find the next generation of these important deposits in British Columbia and other parts of the world.

Kathleen C.S. Rice

(1882–1963)

Kathleen Creighton Starr Rice left the comforts and confines of Edwardian-era Ontario for the wilderness of northern Manitoba, where she found fame as a prospector and mining entrepreneur. Aided by local First Nations, her travels by dog team and canoe through Manitoba and Saskatchewan included an 800 km trek north of The Pas to Reindeer Lake, where she discovered zinc and vanadium in 1914. After moving to the Snow Lake area, she staked gold claims along strike of the Rex, Kiski and Bingo gold mines. In the early 1920s, she staked the first nickel properties in Manitoba, which lured Inco to Manitoba and resulted in a high grade discovery valued at $5 million in 1925. She was credited with introducing the use of borax crystals for determining metal type to the West. Her intellectual curiosity covered topics as diverse as a scientific paper on the Aurora Borealis and plans for hydro generation at Wekusko Falls. She was a journalist, an innovative dog trainer, a horticulturalist and a pioneer environmentalist, with a deep appreciation of First Nations culture and knowledge.

Born and raised in an affluent industrial family in southern Ontario, Rice graduated from the University of Toronto with a BA in mathemati cs and physics in 1906. She taught for five years before catching gold fever and moving to Manitoba in 1913. She established a homestead in The Pas (held in her younger brother’s name, as women were not “persons” at the time) and spent winters studying geology and assessment reports. After learning Cree and local bush skills, Rice prospected in the Beaver Lake area of Saskatchewan, drawn by news of a gold discovery. Following her first discovery at Reindeer Lake, she settled in the Snow Lake region with prospecting partner Dick Woosey.

Rice earned the respect of her peers for staking the Starr claims along strike of several gold mines in the Snow Lake camp. Robert C. Wallace, the first head of the department of geology and mineralogy at the University of Manitoba, said he “knew of no other woman who had done the actual prospecting that she had done.” Her breakthrough discovery came after she staked 16 nickel and copper claims on Rice Island in the Wekusko Lake area in 1920 and 1922. She formed Rice Island Nickel Co. in 1928 and became a national sensation as “Canada’s first woman prospector,” and famously said, “If women could understand the thrills of prospecting, there would be lots of them doing it ... no woman need hesitate about entering the mining field because she is a woman – it isn’t courage that is needed so much as perseverance.”

Rice’s first option offer from Ventures Ltd. was derailed by a lawsuit filed by her American joint venture partner. The case dragged on into the 1930s, leaving Rice and Woosey with a 25% stake each. In 1948, Canadian Nickel Co. Ltd. (CNCL) optioned the claims, and in 1950 renegotiated the option. Rice paid the fees on the property till 1958, when CNCL’s options were assigned to Inco, which made a final payment. Vale still holds the mining lease. Rice’s story, like a rich ore vein, is once again being explored and valued.

David S. Robertson

(b. 1924)

David S. Robertson became a respected statesman of Canada’s mining industry through technical accomplishment and impeccable integrity, displayed during a distinguished career spanning more than six decades. Along with other industry giants, he earned his stripes in the mid-1950s for his role in discovering uranium deposits at Elliott Lake, Ont. In 1965, he founded David S. Robertson & Associates, a consulting firm that grew in stature as it expanded from its Canadian base to other countries. Robertson’s career took on a new dimension in the mid-1970s, after he was retained by the Saskatchewan government to evaluate potash assets for a newly formed Crown corporation. He earned a reputation for credible valuations and as an expert witness in litigation and arbitration cases. His expertise was in demand after his firm merged with Coopers & Lybrand Consulting Group in 1982, and for decades beyond.

Born in Winnipeg, Robertson graduated with a B.Sc. degree in physical chemistry and geology from the University of Manitoba in 1946. After earning his doctorate at Columbia University in 1949, he worked as a researcher before moving to Angola, where he was in charge of a post war Marshall Plan program. He joined the consulting firm of GMX Corp. upon his return to Canada in 1955, and became its president in 1958. During this period he led an exploration program that discovered the Elliot Lake uranium deposits on which Stanrock Uranium Mines was based. He became a vice-president of Stanrock and remained a director until the company was acquired by Denison Mines in 1964. Robertson worked extensively in uranium exploration after forming his namesake consulting company, resulting in the discoveries of the Agnew Lake mine in Ontario and the Mount Taylor deposit in New Mexico. He also made contributions to understanding the time-bound nature of uranium deposits and the geological environments in which they occur.

With past experience in potash, Robertson was appointed chief evaluator on behalf of the government of Saskatchewan, as it prepared to establish Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan as a Crown corporation. Despite controversy over the government action, Robertson’s valuations were acknowledged as fair by all parties. He provided expert advice to the mining industry as a partner of Coopers & Lybrand until 1987, and later as an independent consultant for more than 20 years. Founding chairman of both Ashton Mining of Canada and Meridian Gold, he was a valued board member of other companies as well. He served on several advisory committees and was president of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum from 1993 to 1994. Not the least of his achievements is a legacy of generous mentorship of young talent, notably former employees who later formed their own consulting firms or held senior positions with mining companies.

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