Five new winners will be honoured at the 2023 PDAC Convention. Courtesy of PDAC.

2022 saw the return of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) Convention as an in-person event, bringing with it the return of its annual Awards Gala, where some of the mining industry’s best and brightest are given recognition for their achievements. On Nov. 23, PDAC announced 2023’s winners for its five awards categories, the 45th year these awards have been given.

“We know that our industry is vital for the social and economic strength of Canada, and by honouring excellence through PDAC Awards, we can showcase the responsible ways that mineral exploration and mining makes modern life possible today, tomorrow and into the low carbon future we are headed,” said PDAC president Alex Christopher.

The 2023 PDAC Award winners are as follows:

The Bill Dennis Award, given to individuals who have made important mineral discoveries or advancements of the exploration industry, will go to Chris Taylor and the exploration team from Great Bear Resources for their discovery and establishment of the Dixie project in Red Lake, Ontario. The region had been explored since the ‘80s with little to show for it, but Taylor, confident that the other exploration teams had gotten it wrong, put up his personal line of credit to finance new exploration.

The result was the discovery of the Hinge zone in August 2018, which provided further credit and would lead to the discovery of six additional zones in 2019, which were eventually confirmed to be one continuous mineralized zone. Kinross Gold, who acquired Great Bear Resources in February 2022 for $1.8 billion, plan on bringing the Dixie project to first production.

Glenn Nolan will be awarded the Skookum Jim Award, given to an individual from an Indigenous group who made a significant contribution to the mining and exploration industries. Elected as a PDAC director in 2005 and serving as its first Indigenous president from 2012 to 2014, Nolan was part of the committee that helped create the award.

A former chief of the Missanabie Cree First Nation and executive of Ring of Fire Metals, Nolan acted as a link between Indigenous communities and the Ontario mining industry, supporting development of economic opportunities for Indigenous groups in Canada, as well as in Ecuador and Peru, where he helped foster relations between their governments and the mining sector.

The Sustainability Award will be awarded to the Lundin Foundation as an organization that demonstrated exceptional leadership and action towards protecting the environment and establishing community relations during exploration and operation. The foundation, ran by the Lundin Group of 11 publicly traded companies, focuses exclusively on providing jobs and economic opportunities in the communities in which they operate. In 2021, the foundation supported 650 small businesses that generated $42 million in revenues as well as 2,000 jobs. Additionally, 79 climate technology start-ups were supported by attracting $30 million in third-party funding.

The foundation also provides training programs for mines in South America, employing 80 per cent of the trainees from a program at the Fruta del Norte gold mine. An agricultural coop was also established for the communities surrounding the mine, growing coffee, cocoa, yuca and plantain.

Chalice Mining’s Kevin Frost and Morgan Frejabise will receive the Thayer Lindsey Award, given to those who made a recent significant mineral discovery, for the Julimar nickel-copper-PGE project near Perth, Australia. The region had been explored extensively, but Frost and Frejabise, having looked over airborne magnetic surveys and other geoscience datasets, saw something new: the potential for an ultra-mafic intrusive complex hidden beneath cover. A maiden drill hole in the Gonneville deposit in 2020 was the start of one of the largest nickel-sulfide discoveries in the world.

In 2022, Chalice released an updated mineral resource estimate for Gonneville, with Indicated and Inferred resources of 11 million ounces of palladium-group elements and gold, 560,000 tonnes of nickel, 360,000 tonnes of copper and 54,000 tonnes of cobalt from 350 million tonnes grading at 0.58 per cent nickel equivalent or 1.8 grams per tonne palladium equivalent.

The Viola R. MacMillan Award, given to an individual or organization who showed leadership in management and financing, will go to Alamos Gold’s John A. McCluskey. When Alamos Gold acquired Richmont Mines and its Island Gold deposit in 2017 for US$683 million, shareholders were skeptical, with Alamos’ stock price falling 17 per cent on the announcement.

Since then, the project’s reserves and resources have grown significantly, almost tripling to 5.1 million ounces and extending the mine’s life to 18 years at higher production rates. The project is now worth nearly three times what Alamos paid for it in 2017, and its continuing to grow with the acquisition of a large land package surrounding the mine.