Every January, AME BC celebrates the important achievements made by leaders in the mineral exploration industry here in B.C., throughout Canada and around the world. The Association honoured its 2014 award recipients in front of their peers at the Celebration of Excellence Gala held January 27 as part of Mineral Exploration Roundup 2015.

H.H. “Spud” Huestis Award

Peter Ogryzlo

Excellence in Prospecting and Mineral Exploration


As the recipient of the H.H. “Spud” Huestis Award for excellence in prospecting and mineral exploration, Peter Ogryzlo is recognized especially for his contributions to the discovery of two additional ore zones at the Huckleberry Copper Mine, 85 kilometres southwest of Houston in west-central British Columbia. These newly defined resources have led to major open-pit and plant expansions to extend the mine life – first from 2007 through 2012, and then from 2012 through 2021.

Ogryzlo’s career in the mining industry seemed predestined with his birth in the shadow of the North Main headframe in Flin Flon, Manitoba. During his early years, he spent several summers working for Hudson Bay Mining & Smelting Co. Limited in Flin Flon and Snow Lake, Manitoba, as well as in Yukon. Upon attaining his undergraduate degree in geology, he spent many years in both exploration (from grassroots to mine development) and production, both internationally and domestically. Over the years, he developed his ![Peter Ogryzlo | Mark Kinskofer/ Vision Event Photography]() expertise in porphyry copper-gold deposits, and he was honoured with the Governor General’s Gold Medal for his master’s thesis on breccia hosted mineralization.

Ogryzlo was the senior geologist at Huckleberry Mine from 2004 to 2008. His impact on the mine’s progress was immediately apparent as Ogryzlo and his dedicated team brought the MZX Pit through exploration, development and production in only three years. Scaling up his vision, he used Geoscience BC’s QUESTWest geophysical and geochemical data, combined with till sampling by the BC Geological Survey, to develop larger-scope exploration projects at Huckleberry. In particular, his team used the results of the QUEST-West airborne electromagnetic survey to expand the planned drill program at Huckleberry in 2009 to include several deep holes on the property. The results of that extended drill program were impressive, resulting in the longest intersection of continuous mineralization reported in Huckleberry’s 47-year history. One of the drill holes intersected 0.38 per cent copper and 0.01 per cent molybdenum over 486 metres.

Since his retirement from Huckleberry, Ogryzlo has been continuing his activities as a prospector and consultant. He is a keen geosciences researcher and adopter of new technologies and information in prospecting and exploration. His curiosity and enthusiasm for research mesh well with his passion for exploration and the challenge of finding important new clues in the search for mineralization. He is a dedicated mentor, selflessly contributing to the next generation of exploration geologists. He generously provides advice and guidance to young geologists, encouraging them to take on projects and expand their knowledge and confidence.

E.A. Scholz Award

Excellence in Mine Development


Bob Gallagher and Jim Currie are acknowledged for their key roles in the early stages of resource and economic evaluation, design and construction of the New Afton copper-gold mine near Kamloops, B.C. With Gallagher as president and CEO and Currie as former vice- president of operations for New Gold Inc., their co-operative spirit and enthusiasm led to the successful development of the largest underground panel block caving operation in Canada.

The New Afton copper-gold porphyry deposit is the deeper extension of the original Afton deposit that was operated as an open-pit mine. DRC Resources Corporation, subsequently renamed New Gold Inc., acquired the historic Afton property and defined the deep deposit beneath and to the southwest of the original open pit. An advanced scoping study report in 2004 indicated the economic potential for developing this deposit by an underground panel block caving mining method.

Gallagher provided overall leadership on the development of the project. He was successful in arranging and closing financings to fund exploration and mine development programs. He was also the point person for initiating proactive discussions on the progress of the project and establishing a trusting relationship with the local people. This relationship building paved the way for entering into a participation agreement with two local First Nations bands. Also, supporting the initiatives and programs of the BC Aboriginal Mine Training Association has elevated New Afton as an industry leader in employing skilled Aboriginal people in its workforce.

Currie was initially associated with the New Afton project as a consultant to DRC Resources. He was involved in the early proposals to consider panel block caving to extract the ore as this low-cost, bulk tonnage mining method could be economically advantageous for developing the New Afton resource. Currie also led the co-ordination of the advanced scoping study that included specific studies and evaluations of mine resources and reserves, design, plant site layout and preliminary cost estimates. He later joined New Gold as vice president of operations, where he was responsible for three operating mines as well as construction of the New Afton mine.

Gallagher and Currie spearheaded the critical early development stages of the New Afton project and, with support from their staff, workforce and contractors, construction of the 11,000-tonne-per-day mine was successfully completed and official production commenced in July 2012. In 2013, New Gold was the recipient of PDAC’s Viola R. MacMillan Award for demonstrating leadership in management and excellence in best practices in bringing New Afton Mine to production. Today, this operation is the centre of economic and social prosperity for the local communities.

Murray Pezim Award

David Elliott

Perseverance and Success in Financing Mineral Exploration


David Elliott has made a significant contribution over his 40-plus year career by financing many mineral exploration companies, particularly at the early stages. Over his career, he has provided seed capital and follow-on financing for hundreds of mineral exploration and development companies, both public and private.

Investing in the early stages of exploration is often difficult, but what sets Elliott apart is his ability to identify quality management teams and projects that have a path for exploration success, and then to support and advise exploration teams so they can reach their goals. His long career and unwavering financial support for junior exploration companies is a testament to his ability to attract capital to the exploration industry not just in bull markets but, more importantly, in difficult times. His contribution does not end with the capital raising process; Elliott can be counted on to be an important sounding board and to provide mentorship for management teams.

Elliott is a co founder of Haywood Securities Inc. and currently serves as vice president and director. Haywood is one of an ever-shrinking number of independent brokerage firms in the Vancouver marketplace that have been traditional supporters of exploration in British Columbia and for exploration companies based in Vancouver. With Elliott’s support, Haywood has been an unwavering source of financial support for the mineral exploration and development industry for almost 30 years, and remains one of the largest such sources of financial support in Vancouver.

Elliott’s skill in identifying quality early-stage exploration investments and his low-key approach have put the spotlight on the companies in which he has invested rather than their source of financing. This approach has allowed many exploration groups to pursue their dreams of discovering that elusive ore deposit. While other financiers are often in the spotlight for jumping on the back of discoveries and providing capital, Elliott largely stays out of the limelight. And yet, he provides some of the highestrisk capital to explorers prior to discovery globally – a trait that is often overlooked and highly underappreciated.

Hugo Dummett Diamond Award

Members of the Ekati team (left to right) Mike Rylatt, Dan Johnson, Jeff Stibbard. Not pictured: Jim Excell.

Excellence in Diamond Exploration and Development


As recipients of the Hugo Dummett Diamond Award, Jim Excell, Dan Johnson, Jeff Stibbard and Mike Rylatt are acknowledged for the key roles they played in the successful development of the Ekati Diamond Mine in the Northwest Territories. Ekati is Canada’s first diamond producer and its startup was a major achievement in Canadian mining history. From the discovery of the first kimberlite at Point Lake in September 1991 to the formal opening of Ekati in October 1998, many challenges had to be overcome and each of the award recipients was responsible for a major part of advancing the project from concept to reality in record time, on budget, without any major injuries and with an exemplary record of northern and community involvement.

Excell, a metallurgical engineer, was vice-president, operations, for BHP Diamonds Inc. (BHPD) and had overall responsibility for the construction, commissioning and subsequent operation of the $700-million development of Ekati Mine and the diamond-sorting facility established in Yellowknife. He ultimately served as president and chief operating officer of BHPD from 1999 to 2003, and then as chairman until June 2005. In addition to his outstanding industry experience, he is recognized for fostering goodwill relations with government and Aboriginal groups.

Johnson, a civil engineer, was manager, mine development, for BHPD (1994–1997) and had overall responsibility for managing all aspects of the mine development. Johnson’s ability to cut through non-essential details and keep his entire team focused on meeting critical goals is legendary and, without this ability, the program would have been delayed and over budget.

Stibbard, a mining engineer, was project superintendent for BHPD (1994– 1995), responsible for leading the design, construction and initial site development of Ekati. Subsequently, in the role of mining manager (1995–1998) and reporting to Johnson, he was accountable for the design, construction and operation of the 100,000-tonne-per-day mining operation.

Rylatt is a mineral processing engineer who has specialized in gravity separation processes and has extensive experience in designing and commissioning processing plants. He was hired by BHPD in 1994 and was responsible for flow sheet development, equipment selection, detailed design approval and commissioning of the Ekati diamond heavy-media separation and recovery plant.

The Ekati development team has created a positive and lasting legacy for Canada’s North. In 15 years of continuous operation, Ekati has produced over 55 million carats and its contribution to the Northern economy has been significant both in terms of employment and expenditure. Ekati currently has more than 1,300 full-time employees and contractors, nearly a third of whom are Northerners, and three quarters of the mine’s nearly $6 billion in total expenditures have been spent in the North.

The Ekati project is a positive and lasting legacy in Canada’s North, with significant economic impact both in terms of employment and revenue generation. The Ekati Mine produces nearly three per cent of the current world rough diamond output by weight and five per cent by value.

Colin Spence Award

Excellence in Global Mineral Exploration


Father-and-son team Duane and Morgan Poliquin are being recognized particularly for their roles in the recent discovery and advancement of the Ixtaca gold-silver deposit for Almaden Minerals Ltd. at its Tuligtic property in eastern Mexico. This is one of the most significant greenfield discoveries of recent times, following several years of diligent research and exploration efforts focused on an underexplored area.

Almaden’s 100-per-cent-owned, 14,000-hectare Tuligtic project was identified and acquired by staking during the company’s 2001 regional exploration program, designed and executed by Morgan and Duane. It is situated in Puebla State, 150 kilometres east of Mexico City and 120 kilometres southeast of the Pachuca Deposit, which has a recorded historic production of seven million ounces of gold and 1.4 billion ounces of silver.

Within the large Tuligtic claim block, subsequent Almaden fieldwork identified a five-hectare area of intensely altered rocks containing several prospective targets, including the Ixtaca Zone. An initial hole drilled in August 2010 to test beneath the altered volcanic ash and sinter unit returned a 302-metre intersection of epithermal style mineralization grading one gram per tonne gold and 48 grams per tonne silver with multiple high-grade intervals including 1.67 metres of 60.7 grams per tonne gold and 2,122 grams per tonne silver.

Duane and Morgan Poliquin on the ground in Mexico, 1998.

Since that time, systematic aggressive exploration programs financed and operated entirely by Almaden have involved over 135,000 metres of diamond drilling. Results have shown the Ixtaca deposit to be a broad and robust vein system comprising three potentially economic zones over a 1,400-metre strike length. An updated NI 43-101-compliant resource estimate, published in January 2014, reports open-pit measured and indicated resources totalling 1.648 million ounces of gold and 96.74 million ounces of silver. This resource estimate led to a positive preliminary economic assessment, and a prefeasibility study is currently underway. The deposit is open to expansion, and significant exploration potential remains to be tested in other areas of the property.

Duane, A lmaden’s founder and chairman, earned his geological engineering degree from the University of Saskatchewan in 1962. He has been active in worldwide mineral exploration ever since, with an impressive track record of participation in several base, precious and specialty metal discoveries that became producing mines. He has been honoured by membership in the renowned Casey Research Explorers’ League.

Morgan, Almaden’s president and CEO, graduated from the University of British Columbia geological engineering program in 1994. He then earned his M.Sc. in geology at the University of Auckland, studying geothermal systems and epithermal gold deposits, and his PhD from the University of Exeter (Camborne School of Mines), studying the geology and mineral deposits of eastern Mexico.

Under Duane and Morgan’s leadership, Almaden has been widely recognized for many years as one of the top prospect generators in the mineral exploration business.

Robert R. Hedley Award

Some of the team that made the Aboriginal Mentoring and Training Association a success.

Excellence in Social and Environmental Responsibility


With the tremendous resurgence of exploration and mining industry activity in British Columbia since 2001, it was recognized that Aboriginal communities could be much more involved and meaningfully included in socioeconomic development, including skills training, education and building career opportunities for First Nations in the industry.

This recognition went well beyond the practice of encouraging early engagement with First Nations in exploration and development to take into account the untapped human resource in Aboriginal communities. With AME BC as a founding partner, the British Columbia Aboriginal Mine Training Association (BC AMTA), later renamed the B.C. Aboriginal Mentoring and Training Association, was created in October 2009 to undertake skills training, education and career development for First Nations with industry. From 2009 through 2014, AMTA attracted candidates representing more than 225 First Nations bands throughout B.C. and beyond. BC AMTA had a mandate of finding and preparing Aboriginal people for the various types of employment related to exploration and mining activities.

An early benefactor of the BC AMTA programs was the New Afton mine near Kamloops. In preparation for its 2012 opening of the underground mine, New Gold Inc. required a workforce of 400 people, and BC AMTA was able to provide more than 100 candidates. The BC AMTA /New Gold initiative was the 2013 recipient of the B.C. Mining Diversity Award sponsored by Ernst and Young, awarded jointly by the Mining Association of B.C. and the B.C. Mining HR Task Force.

Although BC AMTA’s roots were in mining and exploration, the program became so successful that it began working with other resource sectors and changed its name to the Aboriginal Mentoring and Training Association (AMTA) to expand upon its success. As a federally registered charitable organization, AMTA had offices in Cranbrook, Merritt, Williams Lake and Vancouver. The results are truly remarkable, with over 1,000 AMTA candidates currently working for more than 350 employers. Other key indicators of success include 45 per cent of the candidates being under the age of 35; high female participation; and an average wage exceeding $52,000 per year. It is safe to say that AMTA achieved its mission “to be the best team in Canada empowering First Nations to create economic health for themselves and their communities through skills training, education and career opportunities.”

David Barr Award

Geotech Drilling

Excellence in Leadership and Innovation in Mineral Exploration Health and Safety


In 2006, Geotech Drilling Services Ltd. recognized a need for increased safety management and hired a full-time health and safety representative. Over the next two years, the company overhauled its health and safety policy, retrained its staff and emerged as a leader in developing and nurturing a safety culture among its crews that was transferred from client to client. The company designed and manufactured several innovative features on its drills, including guards, rod handlers and easily accessible emergency response equipment. Through consistent safety messaging and positive reinforcement, there was a dramatic decrease in incidents.

Geotech Drilling also takes pride in addressing safety issues as they occur. The Last-Minute Risk Assessment, for example, is a mental review of hazards for any activity, and near-miss and incident reporting forms are available to anyone at any time on the company’s website. In short, Geotech Drilling sees safety as a way of life.

In 2013, Geotech Drilling recorded 308,848 hours without a lost workday incident, and was also awarded the Safe Day Everyday Gold Award by AME BC and the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada.

Special Tribute to John Thompson

John Thompson

John Thompson is awarded a Special Tribute for his contributions to the Vancouver mineral exploration and mining community. Thompson has been an energetic supporter of the exploration and mining community since arriving in Vancouver in 1991. His many contributions have included advancing economic geology research, mentoring students who are now active in the industry, supporting volunteer professional activities at local, provincial, national and international levels, and playing pivotal roles in the creation of Geoscience BC and the Canada Mining Innovation Council.

This all started when he left Kennecott– Rio Tinto to become the director of the Mineral Deposit Research Unit (MDRU) at the University of British Columbia. Thompson not only enhanced UBC’s stature as a global force in economic geology research; he ensured that MDRU supported the local geological community through talks, short courses and presentations. Thompson also supervised and mentored a number of students who have gone on to be leaders in their own rights.

In early 1998, he joined Teck Resources Limited as chief geoscientist, then became vice-president, technology and development, in 2005. While at Teck, Thompson remained committed to the sharing of geological ideas. As a result of his leadership, Teck has sponsored geological conferences and short courses, and continues to provide significant support to MDRU, while encouraging volunteer activities, technical presentations and the publishing of papers by Teck geologists.

In 2012, Thompson joined Vancouverbased PetraScience Consultants Inc., a firm that provides exploration and technology services to the mining industry. He also became the Wold Family Professor in Environmental Balance for Human Sustainability at Cornell University.

Thompson has been an active speaker and volunteer for numerous local and international exploration and research conferences and meetings. He has chaired meetings, participated on organizing committees and developed short courses, while still finding time to contribute technical presentations and edit numerous publications, including Economic Geology’s One Hundredth Anniversary Volume.

Of particular note, Thompson was technical chair of the AME BC/Society of Economic Geologists Pathways to Discovery conference in 1998 and the Society of Economic Geologists’ 2013 conference in Whistler. Both of these meetings successfully married the science of geology and mineral deposit studies with the art of mineral exploration. For the Whistler conference, he also co-edited the companion volume, Tectonics, Metallogeny and Discovery: The North American Cordillera and Similar Accretionary Settings.

On another front, Thompson strongly believes in public geoscience and science innovation in general, and played key roles in the formation of Geoscience BC and the Canada Mining Innovation Council. He had an important role behind the $1.1-million Rocks to Riches grant received by AME BC that foreshadowed the founding of Geoscience BC. He was the leader of the AME BC team that received the $25-million grant from the British Columbia government to create Geoscience BC, and has been its chair and greatest cheerleader since its formation. He also played a strong leadership role in the creation of the Canada Mining Innovation Council, becoming the chair for a time and continuing to serve on the board of directors. In addition, he is a past president of the Society of Economic Geologists and a founding director of the Society of Economic Geologists Canada Foundation.

Special Tribute to Bob Cathro

Bob Cathro

Bob Cathro is awarded a Special Tribute posthumously. Cathro (1935–2014) and fellow geological engineer Al Archer ![Bob Cathro | Courtesy of the Cathro family]() founded the consulting firm Archer, Cathro & Associates Ltd. in 1966. Bob was a partner in “AC” until his retirement in 1989, during which time the firm made discoveries or significant advancements of many important Yukon mineral deposits, and “AC” remains one of the top Yukon explorers after nearly 50 years.

Cathro served on the editorial boards of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) Special Volumes on Porphyry Deposits of the Canadian Cordillera (No. 15, 1976 and No. 46, 1995) and Mineral Deposits Division of the Geological Association of Canada Publication No. 2 (2000) on VMS deposits of Latin America. His passion for research and science history flourished in retirement, when he authored nearly 50 articles on the evolution of economic geology for CIM Magazine and edited a series on the “Great Mining Camps of Canada” for Geoscience Canada.

Cathro always believed strongly in giving back to his industry. He served as a director, and then 1982–1983 president of AME BC (then known as the BC & Yukon Chamber of Mines). He also served as the de facto chair of the AME BC Commemorative Book Task Group from 2007 to 2012. Throughout his career, Cathro received several awards, including the A.O. Dufresne Exploration Achievement Award in 1991 from the CIM. In 1999, Cathro and Archer were co-winners of the H.H. “Spud” Huestis Award, and the Geological Association of Canada presented Cathro with its Distinguished Service Award in 2003.

Bob Cathro, the pioneering Western Canadian mineral exploration geologist, mining industry leader and amateur historian, passed away at age 79 in his home in Chemainus, B.C., on August 26, 2014. He will be greatly missed and remembered as a friend and mentor to many in the industry.

Dan Jepsen receives the Gold Pan Award

Gold Pan Award

Exceptional Meritorious Service to the Mineral Exploration Community through AME BC


Dan Jepsen served as executive director of AME BC from 2002 to 2006 and as president and CEO from 2006 to 2008. Jepsen brought to the Association his experience from the forestry industry in developing productive relationships with Aboriginal Peoples along B.C.’s north and central coast. He championed such an approach with B.C.’s mineral exploration and development sector, leading to the development of the Mineral Exploration, Mining and Aboriginal Community Engagement Guidebook. He worked with industry, government and First Nations to make AME BC an early leader in engagement and consultation. Jepsen also worked with the directors and committees of the Association to secure a contingency reserve fund for AME BC, and he helped to secure the provincial government’s commitment of $25 million for the establishment of Geoscience BC. As well, Jepsen grew the Association’s international component, which culminated in a name change for the Association (from BC & Yukon Chamber of Mines to AME BC) as well as a global focus for the annual Mineral Exploration Roundup conference.

Frank Woodside Past Presidents’ Award

Commitment to AME BC and the Province’s Mineral Exploration and Development Sector


A friendly, informative face to the industry, Bogart Cross has volunteered countless hours for AME BC, MineralsEd, the Vancouver Mining Exploration Group and other industry causes throughout his career. Whether it has been recruiting sponsors for AME BC’s Roundup conference or transporting toys and playing Santa for the Mining for Toys initiative, Cross has always been available to lend a hand. He was a key member of AME BC’s Sponsorship Subcommittee of the Roundup Organizing Committee for several years. Cross has also been active with the Vancouver Mining Exploration Group since 2004, and is currently treasurer of the organization. In his work with MineralsEd, he has introduced mineral exploration camp life to thousands of children at the exploration tent display during BC Mining Week at the Mining Week Community Fair and Mining 4 Society. He has also mentored both students and newcomers to the industry. And, as senior advisor, logistics and facilities, for HDI (Hunter Dickinson) for 12 years, he was a driving force behind Amarc Resources Inc. diligently filling out the Canadian Mineral Exploration Health & Safety Survey every year. Cross personifies the “can do, will do” attitude of mineral explorers.

AME BC Outreach Education Funding

MineralsEd is granted $10,000 for coordinating the Kids & Rocks hands on classroom workshops for students in kindergarten through Grade 3 in Vancouverarea schools. The main objective of this program is to introduce children to the basic properties of various rocks and minerals. The kids are very interested, curious and eager to learn about our Earth and its materials. They are provided with a bag of about 25 rocks and minerals, a hand lens, a streak plate, a magnet and a flashlight to experience and learn the basic physical properties of their specimens. As the children advance, they are introduced to how our daily lives are dependent on Earth’s non-renewable resources. In 2014, the grant funded the delivery of the hands-on workshop to 20 classes that totalled 439 children. This Kids & Rocks project is the foundation and future for our mineral exploration industry.

Britannia Mine Museum is granted $10,000 towards supporting the museum’s education programs for 12,500 students ranging from kindergarten to Grade 12, and for consideration and research on developing new exhibits related to consumer choices and demand for products produced from mineral resources. In a program called “What Use Are Minerals to Me?” students in kindergarten to Grade 5 will be introduced to basic mineral exploration practices, examine rocks and minerals, and learn about the challenges and realities of mining our resources. A more advanced program, “Mineral Diversity: Up Close,” will have students in grades 6 to 12 study the history of our Earth and learn about minerals, mineral deposits and evolution of life on Earth. A third program will include a 30-minute critical-thinking game for students in grades 6 to 12 on the topic of “Mining Then & Now: The Bigger Picture” that introduces problem-solving in locating, constructing and operating a new mine.