North of 60 Mining News - The mining newspaper for Alaska and Canada's North

By Shane Lasley
Mining News 

AME to celebrate mining excellence at Gala

Reco leaders who contribute to finding, funding, and building responsible mineral exploration and development projects North of 60 Mining News – January 7, 2022


Last updated 1/6/2022 at 1:47pm

AME Award recipients 2021 Jill Tsolinas Ted Muraro John McConnell Victoria Gold

Victoria Gold Corp.

Victoria Gold CEO John McConnell and his team are recipients of the AME 2021 E.A. Scholz Award for excellence in mine development in BC or Yukon, in recognition of successfully bringing the Eagle Gold Mine into production.

The Association for Mineral Exploration will recognize 11 leaders who have made significant contributions to the mineral exploration and development industry during the AME Roundup 2022.

"The AME Celebration of Excellence Awards recognize the achievements of individuals who contribute to successfully finding, funding and building safe and responsible mineral exploration and development projects," explained AME Chair Jill Tsolinas.

The 2021 Celebration of Excellence Awards honorees are:

Theodore (Ted) Muraro is the recipient of the AME 2021 H.H. "Spud" Huestis Award for significant contributions to enhancing the mineral resources of British Columbia or Yukon. Muraro has devoted more than 60 years to the mineral exploration industry. His most notable contribution was the 1965 discovery of a high-grade gold occurrence that was eventually developed into the Snip gold mine in BC's Golden Triangle. Operated by Barrick Gold Corp. during the 1990s, the historic underground mine at Snip produced 1.1 million ounces of gold from 1.25 million metric tons of ore averaging 27.5 grams per metric ton gold. According to a 2020 calculation for Skeena Resources Ltd., Snip hosts 539,000 metric tons of indicated resource averaging 14 g/t (244,000 oz) gold; and 942,000 metric tons of inferred resources averaging 13.3 g/t (402,000 oz) gold. The AME Awards Committee says Muraro's genuine passion for rocks and people is at the root of the accomplishments that earned him the H.H. "Spud" Huestis Award.

John McConnell and the Victoria Gold Corp. team are the recipients of the AME 2021 E.A. Scholz Award for excellence in mine development in BC or Yukon, in recognition of their achievement over the past decade in developing and successfully bringing the Eagle Gold Mine into production. Located within the traditional territory of the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun in the Yukon, Eagle Gold Mine is a 37,000 metric-ton-per-day open pit and heap leach operation. Despite the challenges of financing, building, and operating a mine in the North, McConnell and his team have demonstrated that the Eagle Gold Mine can be successful and changed the way people should think about mine development in northern regions. Roughly 50% of the Eagle Mine workforce are Yukoners. Victoria Gold's cultural awareness and gender-equality policies go beyond concepts on paper – of the more than 500 workers at Eagle, 25% are women, and 25% are First Nations citizens. With support and cooperation from the Yukon government, McConnell and the Victoria Gold team advanced the Eagle Mine to commercial production and has kept the operation going during the pandemic, providing continuing employment and contract opportunities for Yukoners and benefits to them while achieving project milestones.

The Tahltan Emergency Management Committee is the recipient of the AME 2021 David Barr Award for its leadership and innovation in mineral exploration health and safety. The committee is recognized for creating an inclusive and agile forum to facilitate communication between Indigenous communities and industry in northwest BC. The committee demonstrated exemplary leadership during both the COVID-19 pandemic and the wildfire season. "Now is the time for solidarity, community spirit, personal behavioral change and resilience in combatting this infection," the Tahltan Emergency Management Committee penned in its mandate. Through these values, the committee was agile and responsive to changes in COVID-19 status within northwest BC. The committee created a forum inclusive of both mining and mineral exploration companies active in Tahltan territory to facilitate communication, share learning, and identify opportunities to support one another as well as the regional population. In addition to leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tahltan Emergency Management Committee invited the BC Wildfire Service and industry partners to meet and collaborate on available resources such as transport, accommodation, fuel, and medical services to address the threat of wildfires in the region. When there was a COVID outbreak involving one of the companies, the committee moved swiftly to improve the company's ability to manage the outbreak, and its engagement led to lasting improvements in COVID-related control and protection measures. In summary, the Tahltan Emergency Management Committee has displayed superior leadership and demonstrates exemplary innovation in how Indigenous communities and industry can work together to keep communities, employees, and residents of northwest BC safe.

Gregory Dipple is the inaugural recipient of the AME Innovation Award for a significant innovation or technical advancement that benefits mineral exploration in BC or worldwide. Dipple is recognized for his ground-breaking research on mineral carbon sequestration, which has established a sound scientific basis to support the low-emission extraction of minerals and metals globally for decades to come. Since joining the University of British Columbia faculty 30 years ago, Dipple has consistently demonstrated a unique ability to think outside the box. This skill, combined with his ability to collaborate well with UBC colleagues and the mineral exploration industry, led to him being recognized as a global leader in carbon sequestration. Over the past two decades, Dipple has made significant contributions to understanding how certain mine tailings sequester or mineralize CO2 from the atmosphere. A UBC team led by Dipple recently demonstrated the potential for this mineral carbonation process to permanently sequester vast amounts of CO2 at Giga Metal Corp.'s Turnagain nickel-cobalt project in northern BC. These findings could lead to a mine at Turnagain that both sequesters CO2 and produces two of the metals needed for the lithium-ion batteries powering electric vehicles.

Silvana Costa is the recipient of the AME 2021 Robert R. Hedley Award for excellence in social and environmental responsibility. Silvana's leadership in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices in the global mineral exploration and mining industry has led to the evolution of responsible practices, improved risk management, and shared value creation between the mining industry and Indigenous communities in BC and abroad. After earning a bachelor's degree at Universidade Federal da Bahia in Brazil and a master's degree in environmental design from the University of Calgary, Costa pursued a mining engineering doctorate at UBC. During this time, her passion, intelligence, and inquisitiveness in working with communities and stakeholders were immediately apparent. She became known for her ability to engage respectfully with Indigenous communities and provide expert advice on social and cultural impacts related to mining and natural resource development. Shortly before obtaining her Ph.D., Costa joined the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources as a senior project manager, where she led sustainability initiatives. She went on to serve as senior advisor, and then manager of environment and social responsibility at New Gold Inc., which became recognized as a corporate leader in sustainability. In 2013, she became chair of AME's new Corporate Social Responsibility Committee and spearheaded the association's guiding principles for social responsibility, as well as a community of practice and sessions at the AME Roundup. Through her subsequent roles as director of corporate social responsibility at First Majestic Silver Corp. and currently director of social responsibility at Equinox Gold Corp., Costa has continued to be a driver of positive change.

R. Bob Singh and Chris Taylor are the recipients of the AME 2021 Colin Spence Award for a significant mineral discovery outside BC or Yukon through the original application of prospecting techniques or other geoscience technology. They are being honored for their roles in discovering the enormous LP Fault gold zone on Great Bear Resources Ltd.'s Dixie property in Ontario's Red Lake district. Singh, who has extensive experience managing exploration programs in the Red Lake district since 2003, joined Great Bear as vice president of exploration in 2015. Taylor, who earned a master's degree in structural geology from Carleton University in 2003, has been president and CEO of Great Bear since 2010. Recognizing that Dixie was situated within a unique geological setting within the prolific Red Lake greenstone belt and had the potential for additional gold discoveries, Singh presented the property to Taylor in 2015. They decided to acquire the project for Great Bear. While the previous 28 years of exploration had discovered several gold zones, the largest remained untested until Singh and Taylor decided in 2019 to test a new geological model in the Red Lake district, leading to the discovery of the LP Fault Zone. Their discovery hole cut 14 meters averaging 12.3 g/t gold. In December, Kinross Gold Corp. entered a deal to acquire Great Bear Resources and its Dixie property in a deal valued at C$1.8 billion.

David Harquail is the recipient of the AME 2021 Murray Pezim Award for significant contributions to the mineral exploration and mining community by a financier. Under Harquail 's stewardship, Franco-Nevada Corp. has provided more than $5 billion in investment capital to 325 mining operations throughout Canada and internationally. Since joining what is now Franco-Nevada in 1986, Harquail helped Pierre Lassonde and Seymour Schulich build the company from a junior explorer to a royalty company with a market capitalization of $3.2 billion when Newmont acquired it in 2001. After Newmont spun out their royalty assets in 2008, the original Franco-Nevada management team took the company public again through a $1.2 billion initial public offering on the Toronto Stock Exchange. In the ensuing years, Harquail's business acumen has built Franco-Nevada into a leading investment capital provider for the mining industry. As a philanthropist, Harquail has made positive contributions to the mineral industry through education, including a $10 million donation to Laurentian University's Harquail School of Earth Sciences and its Mineral Exploration Research Centre.

Ron Bernbaum is the recipient of the AME 2021 Special Tribute Award for service to the minerals industry in BC. As the founder of PearTree Canada, Bernbaum is being acknowledged for his role in creating the charitable flow-through financing mechanism in Canada. Introduced in 1972, flow-through shares are a tax-based financing incentive that gives Canada a distinct advantage over global competitors in attracting risk capital for mineral exploration and development. Following a 2006 Income Tax Act amendment that allows for the donation of publicly listed securities without incurring capital gains tax, Bernbaum, who is a tax lawyer and lifelong supporter of many philanthropic causes, architected the charitable flow-through structure. By combing two established tax incentives – flow-through shares and a donation tax credit, donors materially reduce their after-tax of giving, resulting in increased often transformational donations. Today, approximately 70% by dollar value of all flow-through share offerings are completed in this way. Understanding that Canada Revenue Agency acceptance is fundamental to the sustainability of any tax structured offering, Bernbaum and a group of tax and banking professionals submitted the charitable flow-through structure to the agency in 2006. Fifteen years later, PearTree closes roughly $300 million and $500 million in exploration financings annually, all sourced for donation purposes in which about 2,500 charities benefit. At least four other firms now provide similar services as PearTree. Of those firms, three started out in partnership-junior venture arrangements with Bernbaum and PearTree prior to promoting their own offerings.

Michael Gray is the 2021 recipient of the Frank Woodside Gold Pan Award for distinguished service to AME. During the 25 years of support at AME, Gray has been a tireless supporter for the mineral exploration industry, instrumental in communicating industry needs and opportunities to government leaders and the finance community to help BC maintain its distinction as a center of excellence in mineral exploration and mining. With a bachelor's degree in geology from UBC and a master's degree in economic geology from Laurentian University, Gray started his career as a geologist with Falconbridge, then in 1996 was a co-founder of Rubicon Minerals Corp. For the past 16 years, he has been a highly respected mining equities analyst, including nine years with Macquarie Capital Markets and a partner at Agentis Capital Mining Partners for the past two. Gray served six years on AME's Executive Committee, including as president in 2004-2005. He also served as co-chair of AME's Indigenous Relations Committee and on various committees serving AME's membership. His leadership as president contributed to and helped inform the BC Mining Plan, a policy document that was instrumental to a resurgence of mineral exploration and mining in BC, as well as an appreciation of the mining sector by both elected and appointed government officials. While on the executive committee, he was also a strong supporter of the creation of Geoscience BC, Canada's only non-governmental organization of its kind dedicated to geoscience work. His keen ability to analyze and describe the industry's potential has also been critical to AME's success in advocating for the dedication of resources for permitting as BC experiences a resurgence of exploration during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following his term as president, Gray continues to sit on the Roundup Organizing Committee.

Tahltan Emergency Committee Greg Dipple Silvana Costa Bob Singh Chris Taylor


A graphic by MineralsEd, the recipient of AME's Outreach Education Fund supporting well-established education programs related to mineral exploration and development.

MineralsEd is the recipient of AME's Outreach Education Fund that supports well-established education programs related to mineral exploration and development. Since 2017, MineralsEd has delivered the Junior Geologist program to over 2,400 students in British Columbia schools. This program comprises two 1.5-hour virtual workshops that introduce fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade students to the basic properties of natural materials, what mineral resources are, and why exploration and mining are important. Each student is provided with a bag of rocks and minerals, a hand lens, hardness kit, streak plate, magnet, flashlight, and a workbook that guides them through the three main types of rocks, the rock cycle, and the identifying features of rocks and minerals. This hands-on learning opportunity is presented remotely throughout BC, with materials being sent to classrooms beforehand. During the workshops, students are introduced to the importance of mineral resources in our daily lives. Early introduction and understanding of rocks and minerals establish a foundation for young people's appreciation of our dependence on mineral resources. Junior Geologist builds a foundation for public awareness of the value of the mineral exploration industry. AME has granted MineralsEd $20,000 to support the delivery of the Junior Geologist virtual classroom workshop program during 2022.

"I look forward to celebrating the achievements of these leaders in their fields at the Awards Gala at AME Roundup 2022," said Tsolinas.

The AME awards gala will be held at the Vancouver Convention Centre West on Feb. 2.

Tickets are available through AME Roundup 2022 registration at

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Publisher

Over his more than 14 years of covering mining and mineral exploration, Shane has become renowned for his ability to report on the sector in a way that is technically sound enough to inform industry insiders while being easy to understand by a wider audience.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: (907) 726-1095


Reader Comments(0)


Our Family of Publications Includes:

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2021