A partnership formed by Robert Hunter and Robert Dickinson more than 25 years ago has endured as the inspirational foundation for Hunter Dickinson Inc. (HDI), one of North America’s most respected mineral exploration and mine development groups. With Hunter as the financier and promoter and Dickinson as the technical advocate and project potential savant, the efforts of this entrepreneurial duo led to the development of one of the most successful teams in Canadian mining history.
The HDI team has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to advance mineral projects in Canada and around the world. The list includes many important porphyry deposits — notably Mount Milligan, Kemess and Prosperity in BC, Pebble in Alaska, and Xietongmen in China — as well as gold and other deposit types. Hunter and Dickinson both began their careers in their home province of BC. Hunter was a top-performing life insurance agent for 20 years before joining the mining scene in the early 1980s.
His first success came as president of Breakwater Resources Inc., which discovered and developed the Cannon gold mine in Washington State. He was one of the first Canadian mining executives to access capital in London and Europe, paving the way for others to follow, and was widely respected for his tenacity and attention to shareholders.
Dickinson earned his B.Sc. degree in geology from the University of British Columbia in 1972, followed by a Master of Science in Business Administration in 1974. He gravitated to junior mining where many new deposit discoveries are made, a natural fit for his talent and training, and teamed up with Hunter in late 1985. Less than a year later, they took the reins of North American Metals Corporation, which acquired an interest in the Golden Bear project in northwestern BC. In 1988, Homestake Mining made a $40-milllion bid for their interest in the advanced gold project, which began production in 1989.
Through Continental Gold Corp., Hunter and Dickinson advanced the Mount Milligan copper-gold project to feasibility before their company was acquired by Placer Dome for $182 million in 1990. Then, with the addition of new HDI partners, they discovered and developed the Kemess copper-gold mine through El Condor Resources which was acquired by Royal Oak Mines in 1996.
Along with being involved in a dozen mines, including the revived Gibraltar copper mine in BC, HDI has provided management, financial and technical services to 17 public companies holding more than 40 important projects on six continents. Among them is the Pebble deposit in Alaska, which hosts one of the largest copper-gold molybdenum resources in the world. Others include the Campo Morado zinc mine in Mexico, the Burnstone gold mine in South Africa and the Hollister gold mine in Nevada.
The “two Bobs,” as they are fondly known, earned the respect of their peers for their perseverance through industry downturns and technical, legal and political challenges. They maintained a strong presence in BC, while also expanding their global presence, and championed causes such as the Britannia Mine Museum. They advocated responsible mineral development before it became an industry mandate. This ethic, along with technical excellence, is entrenched in the entire HDI team. In 1990, Hunter and Dickinson shared PDAC’s Developer of the Year Award, adding to many individual honors for their contributions to the industry and society.