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Mining Hall of Fame announces new inductees

The Canadian Mining Hall of Fame (CMHF) has revealed five mining professionals at the pinnacle of their careers to be recognised for outstanding professional achievements.
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Jon Baird stresses the CMHF's importance to inspire future generations

Henry Lazenby in Vancouver

CMHF chair Jon Baird told Mining Journal the upcoming Hall of Fame awards in Toronto was an event with the prestige and glamour befitting recognition of the high-calibre inductees. It was also an important way for the CMHF to inspire young people to learn from the best in their fields, he said.

"The CMHF is a great resource for young people. In fact, anyone who attends our gala event will come away inspired, since the calibre of mining professionals in attendance tends to rub off," Baird said.

It's not easy to get into the Hall of Fame. On average, inductees are older than 65 years and have usually spent more than 40 years working in their respective fields.

The CMHF recently announced that Kate Carmack, James Franklin, James Gill, Sandy Laird and Brian Meikle would join the 170-plus members of the CMHF in January.

"Only about 10% of mineralised rocks outcrop at surface, making geologists' jobs very difficult. It takes a lot of skill, dedication and a degree of luck to get to the top of one's profession," Baird said.

"Whether it was through historic discovery, ground-breaking research or delivering significant value to shareholders, each of these individuals [new inductees] made a profound impact on Canada's mining industry and helped to shape it into the global leader it is today."

Baird said Carmack's nomination as part of the group of ‘Klondike discoverers' who were inducted in 1999 perhaps had special significance. The Klondike Gold Rush established Yukon and opened the country's north, as well as opening Canadians' eyes to its possibilities.

"New information has since revealed that Kate also played an integral role in making this discovery. As an Indigenous woman, Kate's traditional knowledge and skills allowed her and George Carmack, along with Skookum Jim Mason and Dawson Charlie, to live off the land in the Forty-Mile and Stewart River areas during their years of prospecting," he said.

Baird added Kate's ability to sew and market her mukluks and mittens to fellow prospectors provided the means to support their work.

"Clouded in hearsay and sensational reporting at the time, most historians agree that it is not clear who made the actual discovery. Oral histories shared among local Indigenous communities suggest that Kate herself found the first nugget of gold."

Franklin, a distinguished geoscientist, spent much of his career with the Geological Survey of Canada documenting the complex evolution of the Canadian Shield and the link to its phenomenal mineral wealth. During his 35-plus-year career, his most outstanding contributions related to volcanogenic massive sulphides, for which his geological understanding had been communicated throughout the industry and resulted in exploration successes.

Baird said Gill secured a place in mining history through the exceptional success and staying power of Aur Resources, which he launched in 1981 with C$250,000 of seed capital and a large land package in Quebec's Val d'Or mining camp. Aur caught the attention of the entire industry in 1989 when it made the breakthrough Louvicourt copper-zinc discovery, which was at the time, the largest base metals discovery in Canada since Kidd Creek.

Laird's place in the CMHF was secured through his 39-year career with Placer Dome and Placer Development, and his direct involvement with transforming at least 15 mineral projects into profitable mines, Baird said.

He was a driving force in the company's project development group, which he headed from 1988 to 1995, and was later responsible for Placer Dome's global operating and development subsidiaries.

Laird earned a reputation for overcoming obstacles and delivering projects to high technical, social and environmental standards. He was a team-builder and a key participant in the growth of Placer into one of the world's great mining companies before it was acquired by Barrick Gold in 2006. 

Meikle contributed in the 1960s to the discovery and development of the Camflo gold mine in Quebec and later was part of a team that made it a cornerstone of growth for Barrick Gold.

In the early 1980s he recognised the potential of the Mercur gold mine, in Utah, which became a key link in the evolution of Barrick. Meikle's crowning achievement was the 1986 Goldstrike discovery, in Nevada, which grew to 60 million ounces of gold reserves and resources in several deposits.

Goldstrike propelled Barrick into the world's largest gold miner and generated immense wealth that has flowed back to benefit Canadians.

The new Hall of Fame inductees will be honoured at the CMHF's 31st annual dinner and induction ceremony to be held on January 10, 2019 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.