2020 Viola R. MacMillan Award

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.

Touquoy/Moose River Mine Development Team

120 860 name tagsFor developing the Touquoy open pit mine and consolidating other gold deposits near Moose River in Nova Scotia after the gold potential of the area had been unrecognized for decades

Damas Touquoy, a prospector from France, discovered gold in the Moose River area of Nova Scotia in 1876 by identifying both high-grade gold in quartz veins, typical of Meguma deposits, and also disseminated gold in the host argillites. 

The disseminated gold, and the Meguma Terrane generally, had been largely overlooked until the mid-1980s when work by Bruce Hudgins for Westminer recognized the potential. Bruce and John Wightman acquired the Touquoy/Moose River property in the mid-1990s and continued the delineation of the gold deposit by drilling. 

In 2002, Ronald Hawkes, a former exploration geologist and manager for Noranda in Australia who had developed and operated five gold deposits in Australia for Plutonic Resources, was looking for gold exploration opportunities in Canada. He examined Bruce and John's drill core from Moose River at a Nova Scotia Open House and recognized similarities with Western Australia's bulk tonnage gold deposits. Ronald formed a company, which subsequently became Atlantic Gold, and optioned the property. CEO Wally Bucknell took the project to the feasibility stage from 2003 to 2014, but delays in environmental assessment permitting, acquisition of surface titles and lack of available financing almost killed the project. 

But then a white knight arrived on the scene in 2014 in the form of Steven Dean, a former president of Teck Corporation, who was looking for a gold development opportunity for his cash-rich company, Spur Resources. He met with Ronald and Wally and was convinced of the potential of the Touquoy property and intrigued by the possibility of consolidating the four known deposits in the Moose River camp, including Touquoy, and exploring the area in between. Spur and Atlantic Gold merged in 2014, retaining the latter's name, and within three years Atlantic Gold had completed a positive feasibility study, raised the necessary financing, completed construction, and put the Touquoy deposit into production as an open pit gold mine on time and on budget. The mine reached commercial production in March 2018. 

In July 2019, St Barbara Limited purchased Atlantic Gold for $722 million. The Australian gold miner expects to produce 95,000-105,000 ounces of gold in fiscal 2020, at a cost of less than AUD$955 per ounce. The company considers the other projects in the Moose River fold, including Beaver Dam, Fifteen Mile Stream, and Cochrane Hill, as candidates for future development. 

Until the Touquoy/Moose River exploration/development team recognized the potential of the disseminated mineralization surrounding the high grade quartz veins, the exploration industry had generally avoided the Meguma Terrane. The success of Atlantic Gold, through the efforts of Bruce, John, Ronald, Wally and Steven, has revitalized gold exploration in the area. The increased interest has also rekindled exploration in other parts of the province resulting in discoveries of epithermal gold mineralization in previously unrecognized areas. 

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Sustainability Award

Agnico Eagle Mines Limited’s Nunavut Community Relations, Education & People Development Team

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Thayer Lindsley Award

Firuz Alizade, Lidya Hod Maden Discovery