PDAC Recognizes 2024 PDAC Award Recipients
The Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) Awards honour outstanding performers in the Canadian and international mineral exploration and mining industry. Recipients are considered the industry’s top contributors. The PDAC Awards Committee is made up of industry leaders with a variety of different roles, skills, experience, and important professional networks to select recipients each year.
Dating back to 1977, these awards are a way to acknowledge exceptional contributors and to celebrate their achievements at a prestigious Awards Gala every year in Toronto during the annual PDAC Convention. You can join us for this year’s Awards Gala & Nite Cap as we acknowledge the extraordinary accomplishments of the 2024 recipients. This event sells out every year, so remember to buy online with your registration.
Meet the 2024 PDAC Award Recipients:
Bill Dennis Award: John Burzynski and the Osisko Mining Inc. Exploration Team
For the discovery and ongoing expansion of the Windfall deposit’s Lynx gold zone located in the Abitibi greenstone belt, Eeyou Istchee James Bay, Québec.
- This award, named for a former President of the association, honours individuals who have accomplished one or both of the following: made a significant Canadian mineral discovery and / or made an important contribution to the prospecting and / or exploration industry.
Discovered by John Burzynski and the Osisko Mining Inc. Exploration Team, the Windfall deposit stands as one of Quebec’s most significant gold finds, both in terms of size and grade. It ranks among the premier discoveries not just in Canada, but globally over the past ten years.
In 2023, Osisko delivered a positive feasibility study on Windfall delivering 12.2Mt grading 8.1 g/t Au for 3.1 Moz Au of probable reserve. The study results outlined a robust project delivering an average of 306,000 oz Au/year of full production. The discovery of the Lynx zones at Windfall has resulted in an outstanding expansion of the previously known deposit in a volcanic belt not typically recognized as host of significant deposits and brought worldwide attention worldwide towards the emerging district.
The Lynx zones were discovered and expanded from 2016 through 2022. During that period Osisko executed an ambitious drilling campaign, ranked among the world’s largest, with up to 35 rigs operating concurrently on the site. This extensive effort, encompassing 1.8 million meters of drilling, marked a significant financial commitment to the district. Windfall’s magnitude and ore grade have consistently grown since the discovery of Lynx in 2016, a testament to the success of their drilling initiative.
Remarkably, their program featured Canada’s longest diamond drill hole, stretching beyond 3,400 meters. Preliminary data shows the deposit could extend beyond a depth of 2,800 meters. Combined with recent exploratory results in adjacent areas, there is compelling evidence pointing to a more expansive deposit. This underscores Windfall’s potential to cement its place among Canada’s elite long-life, high-grade gold deposits.
On May 2, 2023, Osisko announced a 50/50 Joint Venture on the Windfall Gold Project with Gold Fields for cash payment totaling more than C$600M. Combined with work and capex commitments, this represents an investment of C$1.2B at Windfall, fully funding Osisko to mine production and validating the quality and robustness of the deposit.
Skookum Jim Award: Wabun Tribal Council
For developing a consistent process of engagement (The Wabun Model) that reasonably matches lifespan of projects from mineral exploration to development.
- This award is named after the Indigenous leader of the group that discovered the Yukon Klondike goldfields, one of Canada’s most important mineral discoveries. Recipients of this award must be from a recognized Indigenous group in Canada (Metis, Inuit, First Nation) and have demonstrated exceptional achievement and / or service in an Indigenous business organization operating in the Canadian mining industry and / or a Canadian Indigenous exploration or mining company or have made a significant individual contribution to the mining industry.
The Wabun Tribal Council (WTC) is a non-profit regional Chief’s Council representing, advocating for, and delivering services to six First Nations: Beaverhouse, Brunswick House, Chapleau Ojibwe, Flying Post, Matachewan, and Mattagami. The territories of these First Nations span among the most prolific mining camps in Ontario, and as a result, WTC has developed extensive expertise on engaging the mining industry. Most significantly, WTC pioneered a consistent engagement process – known as the Wabun Model – that aligns with the duration of projects, from mineral exploration to development.
The Wabun Model, illustrating their approach to company-community collaboration on exploration and mining, is acknowledged not just in Ontario but across Canada. This distinctive method offers robust and systematic support to First Nations communities during their negotiations and partnerships with exploration and mining companies. This support extends to mining firms as well, affording them clarity regarding local expectations about their operations, conduct, and economic contributions in the region.
Serving both as a guide and facilitator, WTC ensures an equitable and consistent consultation process. WTC aids their member Nations by orchestrating meetings, steering negotiations, and introducing streamlined processes to unite companies and communities. This model fosters the creation of enduring, mutually advantageous partnerships.
Sustainability Award: O3 Mining
For exceptional Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance including the achievement of ECOLOGO Certification.
- This award honours an individual or organization demonstrating outstanding initiative, leadership, and accomplishment in protecting and preserving the natural environment during an exploration program, development, or operation of a mine. The Sustainability Award also recognizes efforts to establish and maintain good relations with local communities.
Since its inception in 2019, O3 Mining has continually enhanced its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices. In 2022 alone, the company invested $2.3 million towards implementing best practices that exceed regulatory mandates. Showcasing its commitment to responsible project development, O3 Mining became one of the first exploration companies certified by Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (UL 2723 ECOLOGO Certification Program for Mineral Exploration Companies).
O3 Mining’s approach transcends both standard regulations and ECOLOGO certification criteria. For instance, it provides superior protection to water banks beyond regulatory standards and mandates the use of biodegradable oils in all heavy machinery on sites, not just drilling equipment as stipulated by the certification. Recognizing the critical role of social acceptability in project advancement, the company embraces a participatory strategy that employs various tools to foster open dialogue and feedback from all stakeholders, ensuring a cohesive coexistence.
To underscore its commitment to responsible exploration, O3 Mining created a dedicated sustainable development department. This proactive team’s primary role is to ensure the consistent application of ESG best practices across the company. Additionally, there’s a Sustainable Development Committee within the Board of Directors to aid the Board in overseeing matters related to health and safety, environment, community interactions, and human resources.
Thayer Lindsley Award: Lundin Group Vicuña Exploration Team
For the discovery of the Vicuña district in the Central Andean copper province in Argentina and Chile.
- Open to individuals and teams of any nationality, this award honours the memory of Thayer Lindsley, one of the greatest mine finders of all time. The award is presented to an individual or team of explorationists credited with a recent mineral discovery with potential economic viability anywhere in the world.
The Lundin Group Vicuña Exploration Team, including Wojtek Wodzicki, Bob Carmichael, Diego Charchaflie, Patricio Jones, Martin Rode, and Alfredo Vitaller have achieved groundbreaking discoveries over the span of more than two decades. Their feats don’t just encompass the identification of three copper-gold porphyry deposits but the establishment of a new mineral district astride the Argentina-Chile border. This success, a first in the Central Andean copper province for several decades, is attributed to a science-driven approach, technical excellence, entrepreneurial spirit, and perseverance.
In the 1990s, the Lundin Group initiated geological and geochemical studies in the Vicuña belt, an area of the Andes that had, up until that point, remained relatively underexplored. Positioned between the renowned Maricunga and El Indio gold-silver belts, this region posed formidable challenges due to its high-altitude conditions ranging from 4500 to 5500 meters above sea level. However, undeterred, their continuous endeavors unveiled a series of copper-gold porphyry systems. These include the Filo del Sol’s shallow oxide mineralization found in 2001, the Josemaría deposit in 2004, the Los Helados deposit in 2008, the deeper Aurora zone at Filo del Sol uncovered in 2020, and most recently, the initial stages of Lunahuasi (formerly known as Potro Cliffs) in 2023.
At present, Josemaría is navigating its way from engineering evaluations towards obtaining permits and, eventually, entering production. Meanwhile, the Los Helados resource’s growth trajectory has been upward both in terms of size and grade, thanks to the 2022 discovery of hidden copper-rich breccias. The Aurora zone, with its remarkable high-grade drill intercepts, has garnered significant attention. Evidence of this is a notable intercept measuring 858 meters with 0.86% Cu, 0.7 g/t Au, and 48.1 g/t Ag, leading to 1.8% CuEq in FSDH41. Aurora’s high-grade finds persist, with extensions northward in the pipeline, and Lunahuasi’s preliminary outcomes promise high yields, as demonstrated by a 60 m intercept with 7.52% CuEq, of which 10 m boasts an impressive 18.00% CuEq in DPDH002. Collectively, the resources from Josemaría, Los Helados, and Filo del Sol amount to 38 billion lbCu, 28 million oz Au, and 356 million oz Ag, with a definite potential for expansion.
Given the immense findings and potential, the Vicuña district is poised to ascend as a pivotal global hub for copper, gold, and silver production — a milestone of paramount importance for both Argentina and Chile. This remarkable achievement has been predicated on traditional, tried-and-tested field methods, emphasising detailed outcrop and drill-core observation and state-of-the-art interpretation using the latest geological concepts and models.
Viola R. MacMillan Award: John McConnell and the Victoria Gold Team
For innovative financing of the Eagle Gold Mine development and production in Yukon.
- This award, named in honour of PDAC’s longest serving President, is given to an individual or organization demonstrating leadership in management and financing for the exploration and development of mineral resources.
John McConnell and the Victoria Gold Team surmounted substantial hurdles to fund the Eagle Gold Mine. Despite the challenges of a global downturn in precious metals equities in 2018 and the severe repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, they secured the necessary financing.
Despite facing skepticism from some shareholders about the project’s feasibility and the team’s capabilities, McConnell and Victoria Gold Corp. managed to secure over $500 million for its construction and development. They achieved this by creating royalties, collaborating with private equity firms, and accessing the equity markets, attracting investors who were aware of the project’s critics.
Upon the mine’s completion, the team adeptly lowered their capital costs. They transitioned from high-cost private loans to conventional bank financing, shifted from private equity to a broader shareholder base, and adeptly managed a strategic investor who initially supported but later departed from the company. Through all the challenges, McConnell and his team stayed resolutely committed to establishing a prosperous and safe mine, benefiting all stakeholders in the Yukon and beyond.
The Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) is the leading voice of the mineral exploration and development community, an industry that supports 719,000 people in direct and indirect employment and contributes $106 billion to Canada’s GDP every year. Representing over 4,400 members around the world, PDAC’s work centers on supporting a competitive, responsible, and sustainable mineral sector.