The Canadian Mining Hall of Fame announces 2023 inductees

The Canadian Mining Hall of Fame will welcome three new members at a gala dinner and induction ceremony on May 24, 2023 at The Carlu in Toronto. Tickets will go on sale for the event in March of next year. The Northern Miner is a co-founding member organization of the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame, along with the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum, The Mining Association of Canada and The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada. More details about the event can be found at

Jim Cooney (Born 1942) 

As a non-miner in the mining world, Jim Cooney championed the concept of sustainable development and pioneered the application of policies and procedures to improve the industry’s social and environmental performance. His strongly held convictions were controversial in the early 1990s, but eventually found acceptance from major companies that understood the risks of not adapting to changing times. Among them was Placer Dome (later part of Barrick Gold), which gave Cooney the opportunity to introduce sustainable development across its Canadian and international operations. He introduced the term “Social Licence to Operate” in 1997, which quickly gained prominence in the mining industry and eventually spread to other industry sectors. From the mid-1990s until his retirement in 2006, he was a thought leader in a broad range of national and international forums that helped mining associations and other organizations draft and adopt sustainable development policies and practices.

Jim Cooney

Cooney initially intended to become an academic. He studied philosophy and political science at Georgetown University and East Asian studies at the University of Toronto. In 1976, he decided to leave academia and was hired by Cominco (now Teck) as a research generalist supporting the company’s strategic planning group.  

In 1982 Cooney was hired by Placer Development as manager of government affairs. In 1986, he left Placer for an Interchange Canada assignment as a resource and policy analyst with the office of the Federal Economic Development Co-ordinator. During that time Placer Development merged with Dome Mines. In 1988, he returned to Placer Dome as director of international and public affairs. His primary responsibility was to assess and help manage social and political risks in the host countries and communities of Placer’s exploration and mining investments.  

In 1987, Cooney was inspired by the Brundtland report, Our Common Future, which introduced the world to the concept of sustainable development. Yet he noted that while governments and civil society embraced the vision of the report, mining risked being left behind in a changing policy environment. In publications and speeches, Cooney advocated that mining companies should adopt sustainable development as an integrated strategy for managing social and environmental risks. In 1996, Placer’s CEO, John Willson, agreed with Cooney’s vision and directed him to prepare a corporate sustainable development policy. During a year of consultations, Cooney garnered input from key stakeholder groups and from Placer’s managers and professionals around the world. Placer’s sustainable development policy was thus embedded in the corporate culture as a statement of the values, insights and aspirations of employees at all levels and locations. In 1998, Placer became the first mining company to fully embrace sustainable development in principle and in practice. 

Under Cooney’s guidance, Placer implemented two pathfinding sustainability initiatives. The company’s Las Cristinas mine in Venezuela conducted a multi-year project of constructive engagement with artisanal miners, and in South Africa the company undertook a multi-year project of providing employability and medical support to retrenched mineworkers at the company’s South Deep mine. Both projects attracted complementary funding from the Canadian International Development Agency and both received commendations from the World Bank as innovative and instructive approaches to community development by a mining company.   

Cooney helped provide the intellectual framework for the practical application of sustainable development and this legacy endures today through standard industry practices such as stakeholder outreach and Indigenous consultation. In recognition of his leadership and achievements, Cooney received the CIM’s award for excellence in sustainable development (2011) and the AME Robert R. Hedley Award for social and environmental responsibility (2016).

Alexander John Davidson (Born 1951) 

Few modern-era geologists have experienced a more productive quest for mineral wealth than Alexander (Alex) Davidson. From 1993 to 2009, he contributed to the remarkable success of Barrick Gold as it evolved from its North American base into the world’s leading gold producer. As executive vice president of exploration and [later] corporate development, Davidson helped expand Barrick’s gold resources through a series of world-class discoveries and strategic mergers and acquisitions. Most notably he led the discovery team at the Pascua Lama gold-silver deposit in the Andes, recognized the exploration upside of the Pierina prospect in Peru, led the team for the grassroots discovery of Lagunas Norte in Peru and evaluated and recommended the acquisition of the Bulyanhulu project in Tanzania. He also maximized the value of assets acquired through takeovers of senior producers such as Lac Minerals, Homestake Mining and Placer Dome. 

Alexander John Davidson

Born in Montreal, Davidson graduated from McGill University in 1976 with a M.Sc. degree in economic geology. Soon after he led an exploration program for a predecessor of Cameco and drilled the discovery hole at the McArthur Lake uranium deposit in Saskatchewan. In 1980 he joined Falconbridge Copper in Ontario, where he contributed to the discovery of the high-grade Winston Lake zinc deposit, which produced from 1988 to 1999. He also played a role in the discovery and development of the Samatosum silver-lead-zinc mine near Adams Lake, British Columbia. 

Davidson joined Barrick in 1993 and became part of a top-tier team led by Peter Munk and Robert Smith (both CMHF inductees). He expanded the company’s exploration efforts outside of North America and devised a system to identify quality projects and share knowledge and talent within the global group. His vision and team leadership skills helped Barrick meet the challenge of expanding total resources while continually replacing mined ounces on an annual basis. 

In 1994, Barrick acquired Lac Minerals and began exploring its South American assets. A year later, Davidson’s team discovered the Pascua deposit in Chile, which led to ground acquisition and exploration across the border at the Lama project in Argentina. Subsequent drilling at Pascua Lama defined reserves of 18 million oz. of gold and 600 million oz. of silver. During this period a joint venture with Argentina Gold led to the discovery of the nearby Valadero mine. 

In 1996, Davidson championed the US$800-million acquisition of Arequipa Resources, based on nine holes at its Pierina discovery. Pierina opened two years later with 8 million oz. of reserves and produced for 18 years as one of the world’s lowest cost mines. He also urged Barrick to acquire Sutton Resources and its Bulyanhulu gold deposit and led exploration that quadrupled reserves to 15 million ounces. As part of the deal Barrick gained a dominant position in the Lake Victoria greenstone belt and acquired nearby projects later developed into mines. Davidson continued to make discoveries, including Lagunas Norte in the Alto Chicama district of Peru.  In 2005 he spearheaded the US$9.2-billion acquisition of Placer Dome, which gave Barrick a dozen new mines around the world and importantly, consolidated the Cortez Trend which resulted in the Cortez, Goldrush and Fourmile deposits in Nevada. Davidson’s achievements helped elevate the stature of Canadian mining at home and overseas and earned him industry honours including the PDAC’s Prospector of the Year Award (2003), the CIM’s A.O. Dufresne Award (2005) and the SME’s Charles F. Rand Gold Medal (2019).


Douglas Balfour Silver (Born 1955) 

The career accomplishments of Douglas Silver reflect the close ties between the Canadian and American mining communities and the mutual benefits of enhanced exposure to new concepts and wealth-generating opportunities. Silver rose to prominence in the early 1990s as president and owner of Balfour Holdings, which became a leading mineral economics and management consulting firm. His training in economic geology (including being involved in a major molybdenum discovery) and rare expertise in mining valuation made him a sought-after consultant and speaker at mining and investment conferences on both sides of the border. Silver also launched the Denver Gold Group (DGG), one of the world’s leading investment forums for gold producers that features a dominant contingent of Canadian-listed companies. He has made many other contributions to Canada’s mining industry, notably in the mineral royalty and streaming sector. In 2005, he launched International Royalty Corporation (IRC) and grew revenues from US$400,000 to US$50 million by 2007 and sold the company for $749 million in 2010. Silver next joined private-equity firm, Orion Resource Partners, and built another large royalty portfolio that ultimately sold for $1.1 billion to Canadian company, Osisko Gold Royalties, and participated in hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of Canadian mining investments. 

Douglas Balfour Silver

Silver was raised in New Jersey and graduated from the University of Arizona with a masters degree in economic geology. He launched Colorado-based Balfour Holdings in 1987, and soon constructed multiple comprehensive databases on mining issues. He developed new valuation techniques for a broad range of mines, mineral deposits and exploration projects. His pioneering expertise in valuations improved the due diligence process, set market values, and ultimately contributed to the drafting of industry valuation standards, such as the CIMVAL Code.  

Silver is a prolific writer and speaker, having given more than 130 presentations, including dozens of keynote addresses at industry events such as PDAC and CIM conferences. He also supported Canadian mining through the DGG, which he conceptualized and founded to introduce gold companies to gold institutional investors. The DGG has long been dominated by Canadian-listed companies, and its annual conference continues today as one of the world’s principal forums for gold investment discussion. 

Early in his career Silver recognized the downstream value of royalty investments, and chose Canada as the place to fulfill his dream of creating not one, but two outstanding royalty portfolios. He co-founded IRC as a private entity in 2003, with only a small royalty from the Hemlo gold project, and then raised $190 million to expand the portfolio. IRC was the largest mining-related initial public offering on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2005. Silver and his team turned IRC into a $749-million company within seven years by acquiring 86 royalties, with a net smelter royalty on Labrador’s giant Voisey’s Bay nickel project being IRC’s flagship asset. 

After selling IRC to Royal Gold for a 60% premium in 2010, Silver joined privately-held Orion Resource Partners and focused on building his second royalty portfolio. The portfolio included a diamond stream from Stornoway Diamonds—a Canadian first—and more than a dozen royalties from projects in five Canadian provinces. The portfolio was ultimately sold in 2017 to Osisko Gold Royalties for $1.1 billion, which made Osisko the third largest Canadian royalty company. 

Silver has received numerous awards for his many achievements, notably from the Society of Mining Engineering, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME), and also was a 2018 inductee into the U.S. National Mining Hall of Fame. 


1 Comment on "The Canadian Mining Hall of Fame announces 2023 inductees"

  1. Congratulations to Alex Davidson! A well deserved recognition.

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