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Who’s the best in their field in mineral exploration?

Northwestern Ontario Prospectors Association hands out the hardware
Ewan Downie, president-CEO, i-80 Gold (Company photo)

With a pandemic-induced backlog of awards to hand out, the Northwestern Ontario Prospectors Association (NWOPA) posted its annual awards winners for the last two years. The Thunder Bay-based NWOPA represents the mineral exploration sector in the region.

Mike Grant is the recipient of the Dan Calvert Distinguished Service Award for 2021, acknowledging exceptional service to the mineral exploration community.

Grant worked for the Ontario Geological Survey (OGS) and the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines as a review geologist and as a mineral development consultant. According to his award profile, he was “introduced to the emerging world of Indigenous consultation” on matters of mineral exploration and mine development. After studying Supreme Court decisions on these matters, Grant recommended to the ministry that consultation be required as part of mine closure plans. Conversations with the OGS and the Windigo Tribal Council eventually led to progressive changes in the Mining Act. It's considered the achievement of Grant’s career. 

Dorothy Campbell takes home the Dan Calvert award for 2022.

The Lakehead University geology grad, worked for several exploration companies before embarking on a 15-year career as a district geologist for the Ontario Geological Service. Campbell has been a treasurer for the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum, and for a number of industry-related professional groups, including the Professional Geoscientists of Ontario, Institute on Lake Superior Geology and Women in Mining. She is a a current director of NWOPA

Ewan Downie receives the Dave Christanson Lifetime Achievement Award for 2021. The award is based upon a cumulative body of work in prospecting, exploration and mining.

An entrepreneur and explorationist for 25 years, Downie founded Wolfden Resources in the late 1990s and later Premier Gold MInes in 2006, the latter being the company that revived mining in the Greenstone area with the acquisition of the Hardrock Property. Hardrock was acquired by Equinox Gold and Orion Mine Finance and is now under construction as an open-pit mine. Downie is currently president-CEO of i-80 Gold with multiple deposits in Nevada.

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Mary-Louise Hill and Jack Parker share the same Lifetime Achievement Award for 2022

Hill is a professor of structural and metamorphoric geology at Lakehead University. Her research focus is high-temperature deformation of metamorphic rock and structural control on orogenic gold deposits in the region. Her work has been impactful in the development of the Borden and Musselwhite mines and other deposits including Hemlo and Hardrock.

Parker worked in mineral exploration in northern Saskatchewan and Hemlo in the early 1980s before beginning a stint as a geoscientist with the Resident Geologist Program in Kenora and Red Lake until 1993. He developed an introductory stage prospecting manual and began mapping the Werner Lake area near Kenora which lead to the discovery of cobalt. Before retiring in 2019, Parker had worked his way up to OGS director and managed a number of mapping and geophysical exercises in the Lake Nipigon area and Ontario’s Far North.

On the site of Ewan Downie’s old stomping grounds, Greenstone Gold Mines picked up the Developer of the Year for 2022 for outstanding mineral development during the calendar year.

A joint venture between Equinox Gold and Orion Mine Finance, the open-pit mine project, south of Geraldton, is under construction and nearing completion. The project is a revitalization of three former underground mines which operated from the late 1930s until 1970.

No Developer of the Year winner was named for 2021

Delta Resources won the 2022 Bernie Schnieders Discovery of the Year for its Delta One gold project, 50 kilometres west of Thunder Bay, in the Shebandowan area.

The company has been working in the historically underexplored property since 2019. Delta’s drilling programs over the years have defined a high-grade gold mineralized structure on the Shebandowan Greenstone Belt that’s 1.5 kilometres long and descends down to 220 metres. The gold zone is wide open in all directions with the grade of mineralization increasing at depth and to the east. 

A winner was not named for 2021.

In a news release, NWOPA said a formal awards ceremony will be held at a later date.