Four new members will officially join the esteemed ranks of the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame at its 19th annual dinner and induction ceremony on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2007, in the Canadian Room of the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in downtown Toronto.
The four new members are newsletter writer George Cross, prospector Alfred Miller, rock mechanics pioneer R.G.K. Morrison, and Harry L. (Bill) Roscoe, best known for building Noranda Mines into a global mining house.
The reception begins at 5:30 p.m., with dinner an hour later. Tickets are $175 per person or $1,750 per table of 10.
GEORGE BUCHANAN CROSS
George B. Cross chronicled and supported the Canadian mining industry through the George Cross News Letter, an authoritative and respected source of daily mining news that served the resource and investment communities for more than 50 years. He has been described as the founding father of the development of real-time access to reliable information about the activities of Canadian mining companies worldwide, a tribute earned before the advent of electronic media and the Internet.
The George Cross News Letter was founded by Cross’s father, George Carmichael Cross, who published the inaugural issue on April 7, 1947. The younger Cross joined the family enterprise in 1952, and became publisher in 1966. He was also the principal writer and researcher and came to personify its motto of “Reliable Reporting” for the benefit of subscribers throughout the world. The publication chronicled the activities of mining and exploration companies listed on the Vancouver Stock Exchange, with particular emphasis on the vibrant junior sector and its many world-class discoveries at home and abroad.
The George Cross News Letter provided breaking news and daily updates on many new discoveries before they were recognized as such by mainstream media, with the Hemlo gold discoveries in Ontario being one notable example. Cross went beyond disseminating the “news” provided by mining companies. He was a diligent reporter and researcher who visited hundreds of mineral projects around the world in order to confirm or question the technical information firsthand. The feature articles resulting from his on-site visits were based on intimate knowledge of the projects and the promoters behind them, and were valued by both the industry and investors.
The George Cross News Letter was published five days a week, 254 issues per year, for a total of 13,388 issues from 1947 to Dec. 29, 2000, which represents a legacy of more than 50 years of service to the Canadian mining community. As publisher, Cross witnessed and recorded for posterity many of the most important discoveries made by Canadian companies using venture capital raised on the Vancouver Stock Exchange (since replaced by the TSX Venture Exchange). He was equally at home in the boardroom with financiers and promoters and in the field with geologists and prospectors. His broad knowledge base, passion for exploration and support of junior companies made him a legend in industry and investment circles. Cross ceased publication of the newsletter in late 2000, but continued to support the industry by providing consulting services and sage advice to junior companies and the investment firms financing their activities. A retirement dinner held in his honour on Feb. 28, 2001, attracted more than 620 guests and many letters of tribute from government leaders and friends from afar.
Cross generously donated his personal collection of the George Cross News Letter to the University of British Columbia, where it will be digitized to preserve an Internet-accessible source of Canadian mining history.
HARRY L. (BILL) ROSCOE
Harry L. Roscoe — “Bill” to an army of friends and industry colleagues — contributed to the advancement and prestige of the mining industry in many ways over many years, but is best known for forging development of a Canadian mining enterprise with global reach and influence. His career is synonymous with that of Noranda Mines, which he helped transform from a fledgling company with a struggling mine in northwestern Quebec into one of the world’s leading natural resource enterprises. He was entrepreneurial and technically skilled, and used these talents to discover new deposits, implement new technologies, build new mines, and guide the company through a period of unprecedented expansion and growth in the 1940s and 1950s.
Roscoe was a Michigan native and graduated from the Michigan School of Mines in 1909. After stints with various companies, he moved to Sudbury, Ont., where he worked for British American Nickel as an engineer, mine captain and superintendent. He joined Noranda Mines in 1926, and was soon put in charge of shaft-sinking and underground development at the new Horne mine, which was designed to produce 500 tons of concentrates for the 1,000-ton-per-day smelter, then under construction.
Roscoe’s development work at Horne led to the discovery of the fabulous Upper H and Lower H orebodies, which generated excitement because of their high copper content. Mineralization returned grades of up to 20% copper in places, and by 1928 plans were being drawn up to expand production. Roscoe was appointed general manager of the Horne mine and smelter complex in 1931. By 1934, production at Horne exceeded 4,000 tons per day, which spurred technological breakthroughs, such as the use of cemented backfill in mined-out stopes to increase ore recovery. As general manager, Roscoe played a leadership role in stabilizing and building the Horne mine and smelter complex into a successful enterprise, which allowed Noranda to seek out and participate in many new opportunities for growth in eastern Canada.
Roscoe became a vice-president and director of Noranda in 1940, and in 1948 moved to its head office in Toronto as senior vice-president and director, where he remained the “top technical person” until his retirement in 1959. He supported the development of many new mines during this period of rapid growth, and also encouraged Noranda to explore and develop projects in the rest of the world. He had a sharp eye for talent too, and assembled and mentored a team of engineers that contributed greatly to the growth of Noranda and many of its affiliated companies.
Roscoe was the first chairman of the mining division of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum, and supported many other industry associations. He became a Canadian citizen in 1935, during a period in which he contributed greatly to the growth of the twin cities of Noranda and Rouyn, Que.
Professor R.G.K. Morrison was known as the father of rock mechanics in Canada, for his pioneering work in introducing rock mechanics and ground control as essential components of the design and safe operation of underground mines.
The tribute is apt and well-deserved, yet understates the extent of the industry transformation brought about by his contributions, which remain as his worldwide legacy.
Morrison was born in Chesterville, Ont. He enlisted in the Armed Forces in 1917 before completing high school, and served abroad as a pilot during the First World War, and in the Caspian Sea area after the war. He enrolled in mine engineering at the University of Toronto through the veterans program, and graduated in 1923. After working in northern Manitoba, he joined John Taylor and Sons, operators of the Kolar Gold Fields in India, in 1927, and worked with them in India until 1949.
Morrison began working in mines that were among the deepest (below 2,000 metres) in the world. Rock bursts were common, and Morrison barely escaped a burst
that killed two colleagues during his first year in India. The tragedy triggered an interest in rock mechanics, and he soon became an authority on the sudden failures of highly stressed rock around mine openings. In the 1930s and ’40s, such failures were a common problem in the deep, narrow-vein gold mines of Ontario. Mining consisted of “chasing the vein” amid a haphazard arrangement of openings plagued by severe stress conditions, ground falls and rock bursts that claimed the lives of 20-50 mine personnel each year. Morrison came to Canada on a visit to study the issue for the Ontario Mining Association, and won the prestigious Inco Medal in 1942 for his famous Report on the Rockburst Situation in Ontario Mines.
Morrison’s major contribution was in understanding and explaining how zones of stress rock would be formed around mine openings as they were enlarged. He introduced to Canadian mining practices the concepts of “doming” (the development of the stressed zones around mine openings) and sequential mining (the orderly, planned excavation of stopes in a sequence). His pioneering concepts brought about a dramatic reduction in ground-control accidents and fatalities, and also helped change mine design from an art to a science based on sound rock-engineering principles. The new practices made mining a safer and more predictable enterprise and were adopted at mines around the world. The number of lives saved and injuries prevented since Morrison’s pioneering work in rock mechanics can only be imagined.
Morrison joined McGill University in Montreal as chairman of the Department of Mining Engineering in 1949, and continued his affiliation with the university after his retirement in 1966 as a professor emeritus. He was proud of going to university without having finished high school and of becoming a professor without a PhD. He taught and inspired a generation of students, many of who followed in his footsteps. He fought to save engineering programs from cutbacks, wrote the first textbook on ground control, and was a respected industry consultant. He also supported industry associations, notably the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum, which awarded him its highest honour, the Distinguished Service Medal, in 1976.
ALFRED E. MILLER
Alfred Miller discovered copper mineralization near the headwaters of the York River in Quebec’s eastern Gasp Peninsula in 1909, triggering a chain of events that brought Noranda Mines to the region to construct a major mining and metallurgical complex known as Gasp Copper Mines in the 1950s. More than 150 million tons averaging 1% copper were subsequently mined and processed, bringing 50 years of unprecedented prosperity and thousands of needed jobs to the Gasp Peninsula.
Miller’s first discovery was made as he and some of his brothers toiled inland in the Gasp to locate stands of timber that could be used for railroad ties. Always the prospector, he spotted copper-stained rocks on the bed of the York River, and understood their significance, but there was no time then to pursue their source, or to imagine that the discovery might one day transform the economy of the region.
Vision, persistence and patience are the hallmarks of great prospectors, and Alfred Miller did not lack any of these qualities. Some time later he and his brothers returned to the site of the discovery. They prospected along the York River to its headwaters, but found no further copper-bearing boulders.
Undaunted, Miller continued the search, a gruelling task by all accounts. The area of interest, situated 100 km from the town of Gasp, was heavily wooded, mountainous, and accessible only in summer by river.
It was 1921 when Miller and his brothers found mineral-bearing rock boulders near the foot of a mountain (later named Copper Mountain) that had been partially stripped by ice and erosion. Prospecting revealed bedrock-hosted copper mineralization, prompting them to stake some claims. Trenching revealed more mineralization and more claims were staked. Unfortunately, investors showed little or no interest in funding exploration of the remote properties. The years passed, with the prospectors continuing to work the claims to keep them in good standing.
A favourable report by a Quebec government geologist caught the attention of Oliver Hall, a mining engineer with Noranda Mines, and geologist Archibald Bell, who sampled the claims in 1937. Bell recommended the project to James Murdoch, the first president of Noranda, who supported the recommendation to option the project. Subsequent exploration revealed a new discovery on adjacent Needle Mountain, with grades of up to 2% copper that turned the prospect into a potential mine. After a wartime hiatus, Gasp Copper Mines was formed in 1947 to develop a mine, mill and smelter complex, commissioned in 1955. Operations were expanded in 1968 to include large, lower-grade reserves at Copper Mountain. Alfred Miller was 75 years old when the mine was first placed into production. He was fortunate to live another 28 years to see it become one of Canada’s most important mining operations.