The Northern Miner’s – 1977 “Mining Man of the Year” Stephen B. Roman

Since 1915, the Northern Miner weekly newspaper has chronicled Canada’s globally significant mining sector.

This was the first Mining Man of the Year Award given by the Northern Miner.

It’s always difficult … and dangerous, to single out a Man of the Year, because different people have different criteria. One could easily include an executive who has done the best he could in a particularly depressed segment of an ailing industry. Still, one really has to admire a person who somehow had the foresight and/or good fortune to sidestep heavy involvement in depressed base metals and concentrate on the booming areas of uranium, coal, oil and gas.

Stephen Roman’s Denison Mines capped the year with the largest-ever uranium sale by any producer (N.M., Dec. 22, 1977) when it consummated a deal with Ontario Hydro for the supply of 126 million pounds of uranium oxide between the years 1980 and 2011. The value of the contract was not disclosed because of various adjustment formulae, but it’s estimated to be worth in excess of $5 billion.

This will involve more than doubling current capacity to some 15,000 tons per day by 1984 or 1985 with the re-opening of several properties in the Elliot Lake area. In addition, Denison has been busy exploring various extensive optioned properties in the currently hot Northern Saskatchewan uranium play.

Earlier this year, (N.M., June 30, 1977), Denison concluded a formal agreement with Imperial Oil whereby Canada’s largest oil company acquired a 16.75% entry into the massive Quintette high quality metallurgical coal development in Northeastern British Columbia. Denison retained its 38.25% interest. Under a deal with Japanese partners and buyers, to be consummated early in the New Year, the Quintette operation could be in production by 1980 at a rate of one million tons per year… rising in stages to five million metric tons annually by 1985.

Denison itself is dedicated to expanding its own worldwide oil and gas operations. These include production in Western Canada plus exploration concessions in the North Aegean Sea and offshore Spain…to name only a few of the hotter areas of interest.

At last year’s annual meeting, Stephen Roman told shareholders that his ambition “is to see the company become a great multi-national corporation before the next decade is out…and for it to remain a Canadian company.”

It is to his credit that he has maintained control…through the lean years and good ones, ever since Elliot Lake claims were raw prospects.

Over the years, Mr. Roman has consistently stood up against government incursions into the industry. He may not have won all of these battles but he has helped slow the process which has been to the benefit of all mining people.

Some may argue that not everyone can find a Denison … and if everyone did, Mr. Roman’s wouldn’t be worth all that much, but there is no doubt that he has made the most of his early good fortune. The mining community is all too familiar with the old prospector who sold his promising claims to a major and then quickly dissipated the proceeds.

In a world where even big “C” conservatives have jumped on the government hand-out bandwagon, Mr. Roman unswervingly stands for the principles of free enterprise, hard work and a day’s wage for a day’s work. All too often he is left standing alone by other business leaders who would rather pander to politicians than espouse viewpoints which are not universally accepted.

Stephan Roman is The Northern Miner’s Man of the Year because he has graphically shown that Canadian money and expertise can compete very successfully with anyone in the world…but first you’ve got to choose your goals. Over the past year, he has come up a winner on all counts.