Yukon Territory wins big at AME BC awards dinner

Prospector and H.H. 'Spud' Huestis Award winner Shawn Ryan at the White Gold discovery outcrop in the Yukon. Photo by The Northern MinerProspector and H.H. 'Spud' Huestis Award winner Shawn Ryan at the White Gold discovery outcrop in the Yukon. Photo by The Northern Miner

Vancouver — A prospector, a Howe Street financier and several geologists and engineers with historic or recent ties to the Yukon Territory were among the recipients of prestigious awards presented at Mineral Exploration Roundup 2010 by the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia (AME BC).

Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and current B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell were on hand to congratulate this year’s winners at a gala awards dinner hosted by AME BC during its recent annual mining convention here.

“Wherever I travel in the world, mining people are always there,” Chretien said during his folksy address to attendees. “Canadians are the best in this business.”

Shawn Ryan, one of the Yukon’s hardest-working and most-successful prospectors, was presented the H.H. “Spud” Huestis Award for excellence in mineral exploration.

His conceptual ideas on generative exploration in the Yukon have led to many new discoveries over the years, the most significant being the White Gold property near the historic Klondike gold camp. The initial grassroots discoveries made by Ryan’s company, Ryanwood Exploration, and follow-up success of Underworld Resources (UW-V, UNDWF-O) triggered a major staking rush and exploration boom in the White Gold district.

Ryan thanked his wife and partner Cathy Wood for sticking with him through the lean years, and his father for introducing him to mining during the Kidd Creek boom.

The E.A. Scholz Award for excellence in mine development was presented to Stephen Quin, president and COO of Capstone Mining (CS-T), and Bruce McLeod, former executive of Sherwood Copper (since merged with Capstone) for their roles in bringing the Minto copper-gold-silver project in Yukon Territory to production.

Quin reminded the audience that many people contributed over the years to Minto’s current status as the Yukon’s only producing mine, including previous owners and risk-takers such as David Fennell, who helped revive and consolidate the project.

“The Yukon government also played a key role,” Quin said. “Of all the governments, the Yukon is by far the best [for supporting new mines].”

McLeod thanked financiers, suppliers and contractors who helped “deliver Minto on time and on budget.” He also acknowledged his trailblazing father, B.C. mine-maker Don McLeod. “Dad, it’s an honour to follow in your footsteps.”

The Murray Pezim Award for “perseverance and success in financing mineral exploration” was appropriately presented to Channing (Chan) Buckland in recognition of his 45-year career in financing Vancouver’s junior mineral exploration sector.

Buckland’s first success as a young broker and geological engineer was participating in the Vancouver Stock Exchange financing of Dynasty Explorations, which discovered the world-class Faro lead-zinc deposit near Ross River in Yukon Territory.

“There were only forty to fifty companies listed at the time [mid-1960s], you could open an account with an address and trades were marked on a blackboard with chalk,” Buckland said, recounting his early career “before the era of PIFs and NI 43-101.”

Buckland went on to play a role in financing the Hemlo gold properties in Ontario and was also an early supporter of Dia Met Minerals’ successful diamond hunt in Canada’s Far North. He worked with several brokerage houses, including the forerunner of Canaccord Financial (CF-T), before establishing his own firm, Bolder Investment Partners.

Barbara Scott Smith, an “unsung hero” of the Canadian diamond industry, was presented the Hugo Dummett Diamond Award for her many — albeit largely confidential — contributions to diamond exploration, technology and mine development. She also developed the only school of petrology focused on diamond deposits.

The Colin Spence Award for Excellence in Global Mining Exploration was presented to globetrotting geologist Mark Rebagliati, also a past recipient of the H.H. Spud Huestis Award (1992) for his many exploration achievements.

His newest award recognizes his exploration breakthroughs at the Pebble copper-gold-molybdenum project in Alaska, now a joint venture between Northern Dynasty Minerals (NDM-T, NAK-X) and Anglo American (AAUKY, AAL-L).

He initially identified and modeled key geological features that led to the delineation of the higher-grade extension to the Pebble West porphyry deposit, which in turn led to the discovery of the massive Pebble East deposit. Pebble now ranks as one of the world’s largest and most important porphyry copper-gold-moly deposits.

Rebagliati also recognized the potential of the early-stage Xietongmen copper-gold porphyry project in Tibet. Subsequent work defined a major copper-gold deposit and also discovered the nearby Newtongmen deposit (both held by Continental Minerals (KMK-V, KMKCF-O).

Rebagliati thanked the Hunter Dickinson (HD) team for their support “through thick and thin and thin” since the mid-1980s, notably at Mt. Milligan, Kemess North and South in B.C., at the Casino project in the Yukon, Camp Morado in Mexico, among others.

He noted that the HD team has drilled “6,320 holes totaling 1.7 million metres around the world,” roughly half of which were drilled outside of Canada, notably at Pebble.

Other award winners are: Senior mines inspector Doug Flynn (David Barr Award for Safety); educator Judi L’Orsa (Robert R. Hedley Award for excellence in social and environmental responsibility); mining executive Randy Turner (Gold Pan Award for contributions to the mineral exploration community); and the Frank Woodside Past Presidents Distinguished Service Award to recipients Arne Birkeland and Gary Giroux.


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