2021 Bill Dennis Award

This award, named for a former president of the association, honours individuals who have accomplished one or both of the following: made a significant mineral discovery; made an important contribution to the prospecting and/or exploration industry.

Phillip Walford & Sherry Dunsworth


For the discovery and delineation of Valentine, the largest undeveloped gold resource in Atlantic CanadaPhil and Sherry combined 

After 25 years of sporadic exploration, the Valentine gold project in Newfoundland was growing stale. There seemed little hope of improving on a sub-economic non-compliant resource of less than half a million ounces announced in 2004.

Everything changed in 2010 when Phillip Walford and Sherry Dunsworth arrived on the scene looking for a multi-million ounce gold acquisition. The two experienced geologists determined that the controls on gold mineralization were poorly understood at Valentine. They developed a new orogenic model that allowed their company, Marathon Gold, to delineate the largest undeveloped gold resource in Atlantic Canada and one of the leading gold development projects in North America.

The first four years were tough. The markets were still recovering from the recession of 2007-2009 and the gold price was just beginning to climb above US$1,000 per ounce. Financing was hard to come by. Yet the team persevered, led by Phill as President and Sherry as Vice-President of Exploration. The more they explored, the more they learned about the structural controls on existing gold zones. This growing understanding of the geological model led to the discovery of satellite deposits along a 20-kilometre strike length of the Valentine Lake Shear Zone.

The breakthrough came in 2014 when the team discovered the plus-three-million-ounce Marathon deposit by following up historical soil anomalies. More discoveries would follow, changing the landscape of geological thinking in Eastern Canada and highlighting Newfoundland and Labrador as a top jurisdiction for global exploration spending.

The April 22, 2020 press release of the updated technical report and pre-feasibility study on the Valentine Gold Project states that the Proven and Probable Reserves are 1.87 million ounces (41.05 million tonnes at 1.41 grams per tonne gold). These reserves are included in the mineral resources which are measured and indicated resources of 3.09 million ounces (54.9 million tonnes at 1.75 grams per tonne gold) and inferred resources containing 0.96 million ounces (16.77 million tonnes at 1.78 grams per tonne gold).