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A Canadian mining legend passes

Barrick Gold founder Peter Munk dies at 90
Peter Munk
Barrick Gold founder Peter Munk (Barrick supplied photo)

Mining mogul, entrepreneur and philanthropist Peter Munk, founder and chairman emeritus of Barrick Gold, died in Toronto, March 28. He was 90.

He founded Barrick in 1983 and built it into the world’s largest gold mining company in less than 25 years.

Born in Budapest in 1927, Munk escaped with his family from Nazi-occupied Hungary in 1944 and landed in Toronto at age 20 in 1949.

As an immigrant without social connections or command of English, Munk felt welcomed by his adopted country and would later profess a lifelong love of Canada in a 2011 remark.

“This is a country that does not ask about your origins but concerns itself with your destiny.”

A philanthropist, especially in his later years, Monk donated nearly $300 million to various causes and institutions including the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at the Toronto General Hospital in 1997.

He gave more than $175 million to the hospital, including a $100 million contribution in 2017 that remains the largest single gift ever made to a Canadian hospital.

A graduate of the University of Toronto, Munk gave the institution $47 million to create what has become Canada’s pre-eminent degree-granting institution for the research and study of global affairs, the Munk School of Global Affairs.

In 2008, he founded The Munk Debates, which quickly became Canada’s most important public policy debate series, bringing the world’s brightest minds together to debate the biggest issues of our time.

Over his life, he received numerous awards and honours, including honorary doctorates from the University of Toronto, Concordia University, Bishop’s University, and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

In 2008, he was named a Companion of the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honour, limited to no more than 165 living Canadians at any one time.

Munk is survived by Melanie, his wife of forty-five years; by his five children, Anthony, Nina, Marc-David, Natalie, and Cheyne; and by his fourteen grandchildren.

Headquartered in Toronto, Barrick has mining operations in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Zambia. The Hemlo property in Northern Ontario consists of Williams, an underground and open pit mine, located 350 kilometres east of Thunder Bay.