AME saluted its leaders at the AME Awards Celebration of Excellence gala on January 24 during the AME Roundup 2018 conference.
H.H. “Spud” Heustis Award
Ron Burk, Ken Konkin and Ken McNaughton
Ron Burk, Ken Konkin and Ken McNaughton are the recipients of the 2017 H.H. “Spud” Huestis Award for excellence in prospecting and mineral exploration in British Columbia and/ or Yukon. They are being honoured for their pivotal roles in discovering the Valley of the Kings (VOK) deposit at the Brucejack mine in northwestern British Columbia. The Brucejack mine entered commercial production for Pretium Resources Inc. in July 2017 and is expected to produce more than seven million ounces of gold over the next 18 years.
Burk joined Silver Standard Resources Inc. in 2004 as chief geologist. Konkin worked as a consulting geologist, including on numerous projects in the Golden Triangle, prior to joining Silver Standard in 1995. Konkin was the project manager for all of the Snowfield and Brucejack surface exploration programs completed by Silver Standard and Pretium. McNaughton began working at Silver Standard in 1991 as the exploration manager, ultimately becoming its senior vice- president, exploration. He moved over to Pretium shortly after its listing as a public company, where he is currently the chief exploration officer. In their time together at Silver Standard from 2004 until 2011, the three recipients achieved great success making significant new discoveries in Argentina, Peru, Mexico and British Columbia. They formed an efficient team with a common passion for exploration, to which each also brought his own unique perspective and talents.
Silver Standard’s exploration activities on the property began at the Snowfield project in 2006. For the first three seasons, the company drilled off a large low-grade resource of copper-gold porphyry mineralization. In 2008, a review was started covering the Brucejack portion of the property, which was known to host a small silver/gold resource at West Zone and a number of precious metal showings. The compilation of the historic database was completed in 2009 and contained a large number of high-grade gold samples spread over the length of the property. This study included the documentation of about 16,000 surface samples and a limited amount of historic drilling outside of West Zone. Remarkably, there were over 100 chip samples with assays exceeding one ounce per ton gold, only one of which was directly associated with what would become VOK.
In the summer of 2009, an initial drill program was completed to test for bulk tonnage gold mineralization, drilling several zones located over the length of the property with holes spaced at 100- and 200-metre centres. That program intersected extreme-grade gold values almost immediately, including hole SU-012, which ran 16,948.5 grams per tonne gold over 1.5 metres and would later become known as the discovery hole for VOK. However, the discovery came not in any single drill hole, but in the early recognition of the potential of the high grade mineralization being intersected by the widely spaced drilling. Extreme-grade gold intervals became an instant hallmark of the deposit. Understanding how they related to the system would take several more years of intensive study to achieve.
That first program totalled 37 drill holes; it was followed up in 2010 with a 73-hole program that was designed in part to test the continuity of the mineralization at VOK. In late 2010, Pretium was formed to acquire and advance the Brucejack project. McNaughton and Konkin moved over to Pretium in January 2011. Over the next few years, Pretium would complete almost 600 more surface drill holes and 800 underground drill holes, numerous academic studies and a bulk sample program to define the existing resource and reserves. Amazingly, fewer than eight years elapsed from the recognition of the deposit in December 2009 until the first gold was poured in June 2017.
E.A. Scholz Award
Joseph Ovsenek, David Prins and Kevin Torpy
Joseph Ovsenek, David Prins and Kevin Torpy are the recipients of the 2017 E.A. Scholz Award. This award is given to those who have made a significant contribution toward the development of a mining operation in British Columbia and/or Yukon.
The Brucejack mine is a 2,700-tonneper-day high-grade underground gold mine located in northwestern British Columbia, approximately 65 kilometres north of Stewart. With a life-of-mine gold grade of 14.1 g/t, a total gold reserve of 8.7 million ounces, a discounted (five per cent) post-tax net present value of US$1.53 billion and a projected allin sustaining cash cost of US$446 per ounce of gold, Brucejack is truly one of the top Canadian mining development success stories of the past decade.
The Brucejack area had been a focus for exploration by various operators since the 1960s, with extensive drilling and underground development completed at the property’s West Zone, near the area of the current mine. Following intersections of bonanza-grade gold mineralization from stepout drilling in 2009 and 2010, Pretium was formed to acquire and advance the project in late 2010. Aggressive drilling programs in 2011 and 2012 continued to demonstrate the presence of high-grade visible gold, so existing underground workings were rehabilitated to facilitate excavation of an underground ramp leading from the historic West Zone area to the new VOK deposit. By 2014, the accelerated exploration program had delivered enough data for completion of a final feasibility study, and project engineering began along with mine permitting activities.
In 2015, as the permitting process was concluding, a competitive and flexible construction financing package was assembled. In March of that year, Pretium received its provincial environmental assessment certificate, and a positive federal environmental assessment decision followed in July. With the receipt of the major project permits, a production decision, and a substantial portion of the construction financing completed, development activity ramped up in September 2015. Construction of the mine, an access road and a 57-kilometre transmission line was completed by early 2017, and the first gold was poured in June.
Pretium has advanced the Brucejack project from exploration to commercial production on an impressive timeline through a period of exploration and development financing difficulties, in a logistically challenging location, while demonstrating positive and respectful engagement with First Nations, all levels of government, stakeholders, contractors and employees. This is a testament to the high level of co-ordination and the unwavering dedication of the management team.
Murray Pezim Award
Ron Netolitzky is the recipient of the 2017 Murray Pezim Award for perseverance and success in financing mineral exploration in British Columbia and/or Yukon. He is being honoured for an illustrious career spanning five decades, not only as a company builder and financier, but also as a geologist, prospector, consultant, entrepreneur, developer, adviser, mentor and outspoken advocate on behalf of independents and Canadian junior resource companies. He remains actively engaged in the exploration industry as a director of several publicly listed companies, and is the board chairman of Skeena Resources Limited, which is currently advancing three significant projects in the Golden Triangle area of northwest B.C.
Netolitzky is a highly accomplished Canadian and international geologist who has always remained an independentminded prospector at heart. But he has excelled – and continues to excel – at sourcing funds to take projects to more advanced stages. In the 1980s, with Delaware Resources and later Consolidated Stikine Resources, he recognized and helped realize the potential of the Snip and Eskay Creek properties, which became two of Canada’s most successful high grade precious metal mines. He has also contributed to the growth of many other junior companies, and has been instrumental in multiple significant merger-and-acquisition events. Under his leadership of Loki Gold (later Viceroy Resources) during the 1990s, the Brewery Creek project in Yukon was transformed into a successful open-pit heap-leach gold mine. This was no small feat, considering the sub Arctic climate at this location.
Netolitzky founded Taiga Consultants Ltd. in 1970 and was active as a consultant during the Saskatchewan uranium rush before venturing into junior mining exploration and development from 1985 onward. Most of Netolitzky’s financings over the past 32 years have been non-brokered private placements in which he has participated substantially as an investor, in many cases becoming a controlling shareholder.
Previous recognition for Netolitzky’s many achievements include his receipt of the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada’s Bill Dennis Prospector of the Year Award in 1990, AME’s E.A. Scholz Award for excellence in mine development in 1996 and induction into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame in 2015.
Colin Spence Award
The Colin Spence Award for excellence in global mineral exploration is presented to Robert Sibthorpe. Rarely does an exploration geologist have a hand in all aspects of exploration, from selecting the project, designing the exploration program, raising the funding, and negotiating land access with local communities and governments to personally managing the exploration activities until a National Instrument 43-101 mineral resource has been completed. Yet Sibthorpe provided major leadership on all of these tasks, resulting in the discovery of high-grade gold bearing quartz veins in the 55 Zone on the Yaramoko property in Burkina Faso. The project was acquired in late 2010 and, remarkably, commercial production was declared in October 2016, which is a testament to the role Sibthorpe played and the team that followed his tenure at Roxgold Inc.
Sibthorpe and his financial partner, Al Fabbro, acquired the Yaramoko project and two other projects from Riverstone Resources Inc. for their venture shell company. Sibthorpe was attracted to the high-grade gold Riverstone had discovered at the Bagassi South prospect because gold deposits in Burkina Faso were generally characterized as low grade bulk tonnage deposits. Sibthorpe initiated property-wide airborne geophysical and soil geochemical surveys. His structural interpretation, combined with anomalous gold-in-soil results, led to his decision to test the 55 Zone even though conventional wisdom suggested a granite-hosted anomaly like the 55 Zone should not be a priority target in the Hounde greenstone belt. The soil anomaly was first tested by rotary air blast (RAB) drilling, and then reverse circulation drilling was utilized to test anomalous areas delineated by RAB drilling yielding 24.62 g/t gold over six metres in hole YMR-10-RC036. When drilling started, the area had a large number of artisanal miners, providing Sibthorpe and his exploration team valuable mapping exposure to the quartz veins hosting the gold. By aggressively targeting its discovery, Roxgold was able to announce its first resource estimate by August 2012, with current (December 2016) proven and probable reserves sitting at 662,000 ounces at 11.46 g/t gold following mine depletion of 91,000 ounces.
Hugo Dummett Diamond Award
Patrick Evans, Jonathan Comerford and Carl Verley
Patrick Evans, Jonathan Comerford and Carl Verley, key individuals at Mountain Province Diamonds (MPV), are presented with the Hugo Dummett Diamond Award for excellence in diamond exploration and development for 2017. They have all played direct roles in advancing MPV from a junior exploration company to a partner with De Beers Canada and co launching the large new diamond mine, Gahcho Kué, a remote fly- in/flyout operation 280 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.
Verley was a founding member of MPV and has been a director of the company since 1986. He was responsible for getting the company to explore for diamonds in 1992, just after the discovery of Ekati. Canamera Geological was contracted to do the exploration on behalf of MPV. By 1994, Verley and Canamera geologists reviewed the sampling and geophysics completed to date and selected anomaly 5034 for drilling. Drilling of this anomaly led to the discovery of the first kimberlite that would become part of the Gahcho Kué mine. As the project advanced, expenses escalated and raising money became difficult. In 1997, MPV formed a joint venture with De Beers, with the latter as operator.
After MPV amalgamated with Glenmore Highlands in 2001, Comerford joined the board, and he has been chair since 2006. In representing the major shareholders of MPV, Comerford was successful in winning their support for financing MPV’s share in advancing the project through numerous equity infusions needed before financing was put in place for the mine build. Comerford was also decisive in determining what was needed to move the project forward: a new CEO with more experience.
In 2005, Evans was appointed CEO of the company, a position he held until 2017. Evans was well connected in the mining and investment community and a consummate professional – a quality likely developed during his time in the South African Foreign Service. Having previously held the position of CEO at Southern Era, he had experience managing joint venture relationships with De Beers. During his tenure with MPV, Evans successfully guided the company through consolidations that resulted in a 49 per cent position in the joint venture with De Beers as the only other partner; renegotiating the agreement with De Beers to establish an effective 50/50 joint venture; and pushing the project operator to advance the project through feasibility, the mine permitting and construction and, ultimately, commercial production.
The Mountain Province team members of Evans, Comerford and Verley are deserving recipients of the Hugo Dummett Diamond Award. Hugo Dummett was quick to recognize talents in individuals and to nurture those talents by building a strong loyalty in his team, particularly in keeping eyes on the goal. This is Evans’s strong suit. Dummett also appreciated individuals who could make difficult decisions quickly for the best interests of the company, an attribute clearly demonstrated by Comerford. Finally, Dummett always recognized the efforts of those in the trenches – or, in this case, at the drill rig. Verley identified the diamond opportunity, confirmed its success, and saw the company through many years until it culminated in a new diamond mine for Canada. The combination of these attributes of Evans, Comerford and Verley directly contributed to the development of the Gahcho Kué mine in the Northwest Territories.
Robert R. Hedley Award
Brent Murphy and Elizabeth Miller
Brent Murphy and Elizabeth Miller are the 2017 recipients of the Robert R. Hedley Award for their significant contributions and advances in the realm of social and environmental responsibility related to Seabridge Gold’s KSM project in northern British Columbia. Murphy and Miller have demonstrated a dedication to the integration of environmental and social design, balancing the financial viability of the proposed mine with the needs of the environment and surrounding society and cultures. They set a new standard for environmental stewardship and leadership in social engagement, going well beyond the parameters of the environmental assessment requirements.
Located in the upper Nass Valley, the proposed KSM mine is surrounded by the traditional territories of four First Nations and the Nisga’a Nation, and is near the Alaskan border. That setting presents unique challenges for environmental protection and gaining social licence to operate. Benefits agreements were negotiated with the Gitanyow First Nation and the Nisga’a Treaty Nation, and the project was accepted by the Tahltan, Gitxsan and Skii km Lax Ha nations. Tribal nations and communities in Alaska were engaged to ensure their opinions were accounted for. As well, the surrounding communities of Smithers, Terrace, Stewart, Dease Lake, Iskut and Telegraph Creek were – and continue to be – consulted. The result of the engagement with stakeholders led to $500 million in design changes and training opportunities with the KSM project.
Murphy, as vice president of environmental affairs, and Miller, as manager of environmental affairs for Seabridge Gold, have acted as a powerful team, dedicated to moving their project forward in a sustainable way to the benefit of their neighbours as well as their shareholders. Through their achievements, Murphy and Miller set a new standard for environmental stewardship and leadership in social engagement while protecting the project’s economic feasibility. They truly understand that balance is not only achievable, but required.
David Barr Award
Janice Fingler is the recipient of the David Barr Award for excellence in leadership and innovation in mineral exploration health and safety. Her strong leadership since joining the AME Environment, Health & Safety Committee in 2013 (and chairing it since 2014) has enabled the committee to grow and be a strong voice for health and safety in the mineral exploration community, in British Columbia and across the country.
With fellow committee member Dave Thompson, she worked tirelessly to reorganize the Exploration Safety for Project Managers workshop to create dialogue with government officials for a truly interactive workshop for participants. She strategically recruited new members to the committee and harnessed the talents of existing members, allowing AME – in collaboration with the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada – to deliver new initiatives, such as the helicopter slinging training presentation delivered by committee members Maria Gabriel and Kim Bilquist at AME Roundup 2017. Fingler’s true and honest dedication to advancing health and safety was also demonstrated by her leading an alert to make AME members aware of online resources regarding forest fire safety during the height of the wildfires this past summer.
Fingler is widely recognized by her peers as a leader who has instilled a corporate commitment to health and safety through her own practice and her role at AME. While she is stepping down as chair of the committee, her actions over the past few years will inspire new leadership in continuing to build a true culture of safety in the industry.
Gold Pan Award
Mona Forster and Royanna Wild
There are two recipients of the Gold Pan Award for 2017 for their service to AME.
Mona Forster has volunteered at AME for more than 20 years, and continues to support AME as a past board chair and active adviser. Forster’s involvement in AME was focused on her being a director from 2005 to 2012 and board chair from 2011 to 2012. Forster was also chair of AME’s Nominating Committee in 2012 and 2013, and a member of the Nominating Committee in 2016. In addition, Forster has been actively involved in planning AME’s Roundup conference, and, more recently, lent her expertise to the Tax, Securities and Investment Committee and the Communications and Marketing Committee.
Royanna Wild is an active member of AME’s Land Access and Use Committee and volunteers with the Kamloops Exploration Group (KEG). Her volunteer activities for KEG have led to the successful creation of its Outreach Program. She also instituted the student delegate program at the annual KEG Conference. Wild was a member of the team that started the popular annual KEG Lecture Series, which brings together an audience of both industry and the public, and she spearheaded the popular “Ask a Geo” events in Kamloops. She was also involved with starting Mining Day in Kamloops. She is a tireless volunteer, often working in the background, helping out where needed on AME’s initiatives, such as Discovery Day at Roundup. Wild is a great ambassador for the industry, working with young people and encouraging their interest in geology.
Frank Woodside Past Presidents and Chairs Award
Maureen Lipkewich, Gary Nordin and Sheila Stenzel
The Frank Woodside Past Presidents and Past Chairs Award is presented to three individuals for their distinguished service to AME and/or the mineral exploration industry.
Maureen Lipkewich co-founded the Mineral Resources Education Program of B.C., now known as MineralsEd, with Coquitlam school teacher Bruce Kiloh in 1991. She served as director from its inception in 1991 until 2003, and continues to be involved as an honorary member of its board of trustees. Lipkewich is a lifelong member of B.C.’s mining community. She grew up in Merritt, married a miner and moved with her family to Kamloops, then Tumbler Ridge, and finally Vancouver. Lipkewich was working as a volunteer with the Mining Association of B.C. in the late 1980s when she began to cross paths with teachers at career fairs who informed her that they did not have up-to-date and useful materials to teach about mining. Her search for solutions led her to the B.C. Ministry of Education, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the Social Studies provincial specialist association, where she met Kiloh. They drafted a formal teacher-industry partnership dedicated to supporting teachers in their development of resources to teach about earth science, mineral resources and mining at all grade levels where there was opportunity in the curriculum.
Gary Nordin has worked in the mining industry for more than 50 years. He is a founder, director and senior geologist with Orestone Mining Corp. Prior to this, he co-founded and served as a director of Polaris Materials Corporation from 2000 to 2009. Earlier in his career, Nordin was a founding director, executive vice- president and chief geologist of Eldorado Gold Corporation. He has served on the board of directors of several publicly listed exploration and mining companies. Nordin has been an ardent member and supporter of AME, and has mentored and assisted many aspiring mineral explorers in their studies and exploration activities, and, most importantly, nurtured their enthusiasm and passion for natural resource exploration in all its many facets.
Sheila Stenzel got her start in the industry by working on a national uranium resource assessment project in South Dakota; working for the United States Geological Survey water resources division in Colorado; and working with Teck on a summer drilling program at the Daniel’s Harbour zinc mine in Newfoundland while completing her PhD. Stenzel first became involved with MineralsEd in 1999 as a volunteer workshop presenter; she later became the program co-ordinator, and then eventually the director in 2003. Stenzel works directly with classroom teachers to develop curriculums and resources for the school program. She oversees the daily operations of the program, working throughout the year with a program co-ordinator and a team of teacher-partners and volunteers from the industry to organize mining and geoscience workshops and field trips, as well as student and teacher programs at industry conferences throughout British Columbia.
Outreach Education Fund
Britannia Mine Museum and MineralsEd
There are two recipients of the AME Outreach Education Fund. Britannia Mine Museum is granted $10,000 to support the 2018 continuation of its well-established Education Program. MineralsEd is granted $10,000 to fund the Kids & Rocks Classroom Workshop for 2018.