Scott Berdahl and Ella Cullen named Young Mining Professionals of the Year

Ella Cullen and Scott Berdahl have been named the Young Mining Professionals of the year for 2024.

The winners of the Young Mining Professionals’ (YMP) Eira Thomas and Peter Munk Awards for 2024 are Scott Berdahl of Whitehorse and Ella Cullen of Lisbon, Portugal. The YMP awards recognize two young mining professionals — a male and a female — under the age of 40 who have demonstrated exceptional leadership skills and innovative thinking for their companies and shareholders. 

Nominees from a public submissions process were judged by a selection committee consisting of YMP directors from chapters in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and London (U.K.) as well as senior executives of The Northern Miner Group. The awards will be presented in the fall by Mark Bristow, president of Barrick Gold (TSX: ABX; NYSE: GOLD). 

Sponsoring the awards for 2024 are Barrick Gold, Cassels, KPMG and The Northern Miner. 

Scott Berdahl

Growing up in a prospecting family in the Yukon wilderness, Scott Berdahl has always been around mining. He says he was eight or nine years old when he first went out to break rocks and “around twelve” when he got his first job prospecting. Now the co-founder and CEO of Snowline Gold (TSXV: SGD; US-OTC: SNWGF) oversees district-scale, greenfield gold exploration in the Yukon. 

Unlike his father Ron, a self-educated prospector, Berdahl has undergraduate degrees in geology and writing from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in Earth Sciences and Engineering from King Abdullah University in Saudi Arabia and an MBA from the Institut Européan d’Administration des Affaires, which has campuses in France and Singapore. 

Berdahl believes MIT accepted him because the prestigious American school “probably didn’t get many applications from the Yukon,” but his immersion in the mining industry from an early age and his high school grades couldn’t have been overlooked. 

He returned home to Whitehorse and the family prospecting business after completing his undergraduate degree. But when the mining industry went into a downturn several years later and money was scarce, he lucked into a four-week writing internship at a science conference in Saudi Arabia. Once there, he applied to and was accepted into a two-year Earth Sciences and Engineering master’s program at King Abdullah University. 

The MBA also made sense, he remarked, because “prospecting is just as much about business as it is about geology.” 

Returning to Canada in 2018, Berdahl spent a little more than a year working for a junior miner in Vancouver before returning to the Yukon to breathe some life into the Berdahl family’s extensive portfolio of properties. 

“I spent most of 2019 chasing various majors trying to sell some of our projects, but the best offer we got was an opportunity to vend them into a shell company, which allowed us to hold onto an equity stake and a management opportunity for myself as CEO,” he recalled. 

Snowline has a huge land package of 3,300 sq. km that hosts diverse mineralization styles. The Valley Zone at its Rogue project, a reduced intrusion-related gold deposit 223 km east of Mayo, is the company’s primary target and best prospect for mine development. The Valley discovery is similar in mineralization style to Victoria Gold’s (TSX: VGCX) Eagle mine in the Mayo mining district and Kinross Gold’s (TSX: K; NYSE: KGC) Fort Knox mine in Alaska, but the Snowline project hosts very high concentrations of gold-bearing quartz veins and very high grades, Berdahl said. 

At year end 2023, Snowline had $35 million sitting in its treasury, strong investor support, including a 9.9% stake by B2Gold (TSX: BTO; NYSE: BTG), and plans for a 2024 drilling program with four drill rigs. 

Last year, Snowline won the Yukon government’s Robert E. Leckie Award for Excellence in Environmental Stewardship for its progressive reclamation of surface disturbances, and its collaboration with the Nacho Nyak Dun First Nation from whom it leases a 30-kW solar array providing clean energy at its camp. 

Ella Cullen

The 2024 winner of the YMP’s Eira Thomas Award, Ella Cullen, was born and raised near Whanganui, New Zealand, “in the middle of nowhere” on her parents’ farm.  

“We raised a lot of animals, including lambs, calves, and kids,” she said. “We had full freedom to be adventurous and creative and had to entertain ourselves, which is a bit of a novelty in this day and age. I’m super grateful for such a childhood. It feels like magic to look back at that.” 

Today, Cullen lives in Lisbon and travels the world as co-founder and chief marketing officer of Minespider, a technology company with a traceability platform for mining and raw materials tracking. The Minespider solution employs blockchain, AI and internet of things (IoT) technologies to capture and communicate complex supply chain data. 

Founded in 2018 with the goal of eliminating conflict minerals from supply chains, Minespider empowers responsible companies and organizations around the world to confirm and communicate their compliance with transparency and ESG principles. 

For example, Minespider’s work with Brazilian gold aggregator, Fenix DVTM, certifies the provenance of its gold, keeping its supply chain free of material from illegal mining operations in the Amazon with their ill effects on the environment and Indigenous people. 

Customers include mining companies like Peruvian-based Minsur, a world leader in tin mining, downstream automobile manufacturers like Ford, Volkswagen and Renault, as well as technology companies like Google and Cisco. Minespider is a member of several Europe-based consortia planning for the recycling of battery materials and supplies tracking technology for the Raw Materials Radar consortium promoting safer and more responsible artisanal and small-scale mining in West Africa. 

“In five years, traceability solutions like Minespider’s will be a must-have, not a nice-to-have anymore,” Cullen predicts. 

There were no headframes anywhere near Whanganui and no reason to think Cullen would end up in the mining industry. She earned a bachelor’s degree in international business and marketing at the University of Otago in New Zealand and SDA Bocconi School of Management in Italy. Graduate studies for a master’s degree in business and marketing followed at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa and the Copenhagen Business School. 

“Working as a woman in the mining industry can have its challenges,” she acknowledged. “For example, there might be a situation where female members of a team are asked to take notes, schedule meetings or get coffee. These are the kind of biases that can sneak into the workplace. I remember one time I was the only female in a client meeting when someone asked for coffee, and everybody looked at me. Fortunately, my co-founder and CEO, Nathan Williams, stood up and said, ‘I’ll take the order. What does everyone want?’ I’m very fortunate to work in such an open-minded company.” 

At the same time, Cullen notes, being a woman in the industry brings opportunities, such as being more memorable when meeting potential customers at conferences. Women, she predicts, will play an increasingly important role in the mining industry as she says that companies with female leadership and diverse teams are more profitable and perform better on sustainability. 

In addition to her 2024 Eira Thomas Award from YMP, Cullen was recognized as one of 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining by the organization Women in Mining U.K. in 2022. 


Be the first to comment on "Scott Berdahl and Ella Cullen named Young Mining Professionals of the Year"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


By continuing to browse you agree to our use of cookies. To learn more, click more information

Dear user, please be aware that we use cookies to help users navigate our website content and to help us understand how we can improve the user experience. If you have ideas for how we can improve our services, we’d love to hear from you. Click here to email us. By continuing to browse you agree to our use of cookies. Please see our Privacy & Cookie Usage Policy to learn more.