2021 Viola R. MacMillan Award

This award, which is 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.

Mark O'Dea


For building and financing several international mining companies, taking them from exploration Mark O'Deaand discovery to development and operations.  

Since winning second place in the Goldcorp Challenge in 2001, Mark O’Dea has built and financed several mining companies with worldwide operations.

Great projects in good places. This statement acts as Mark’s keel and compass to building a portfolio of quality mining companies that have crystallized C$3 billion in shareholder value. 

Mark launched his first company, Fronteer Gold in 2001. A decade later, at the top of the last mining cycle, the young geologist sold Fronteer and its flagship Long Canyon gold project in Nevada to Newmont Mining for US$2.3 billion. He had vended Fronteer’s uranium assets in Labrador a year earlier for C$260 million.

Mark then scaled up his business platform by founding Oxygen Capital, to structure, finance, build and manage mining companies.  True Gold Mining is just one example of this, putting the Karma gold mine in Burkina Faso into production.  With traditional bank financing unavailable for gold projects in West Africa, Mark tapped into existing corporate relationships and private equity to raise C$33.5 million at a low point in the mining cycle.  He and his team were later able to convince Franco-Nevada and Sandstorm to provide a syndicated gold loan and streaming package worth C$120 million, the first partnership of its kind for a single asset developer. Endeavour Mining purchased True Gold for C$240 million in 2016. 

Pure Gold Mining is another example.  Securing support from large corporates and mining titans, the PureGold Mine in Red Lake Ontario is scheduled to complete its first gold pour in December 2020, becoming Canada’s newest high-grade gold mine.

Mark has guided his companies by an ethos developed at the outset of his career: The Science of Discovery. Every company and project he worked on was science-driven, identified undervalued assets, defined team culture, while simultaneously leveraging existing and new financing avenues to advance projects to commercial status.

Mark has shown an intrinsic knack for bringing together and motivating top-tier talent, allowing him to build teams bound for success. Creativity and resourcefulness are some of the core traits he seeks in every team member, and he attributes his success to those he has worked with over the past 20 years. 

Today, Mark remains actively involved with his Oxygen portfolio companies and continues to be committed to a strong mining industry that balances responsible environmental stewardship, community benefits and sound financial returns. 




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