The Canadian Mining Hall of Fame was conceived by the late Maurice R. Brown, former editor and publisher of The Northern Miner, as a way to recognize and honour the legendary mine finders and builders of a great Canadian industry. The Hall was established in 1988. For more information about the extraordinary individuals who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, please go to their home website: http://mininghalloffame.ca/
Ronald Netolitzky is an accomplished Canadian geologist who has always remained an independent-minded prospector at heart. He recognized and helped realize the potential of the Snip and Eskay Creek properties in northwest British Columbia, which became two of Canada’s most successful, high-grade precious metal mines. He also contributed to the growth of many junior companies and, at last count, was involved in 12 significant merger-and-acquisition events.
Netolitzky graduated from the University of Alberta with a B.Sc. in geology in 1964 and a M.Sc. from University of Calgary in 1967. He joined the Saskatchewan uranium rush as a consultant before venturing into junior mining. By 1985, Netolitzky was president of Delaware Resources and seeking a project of merit.
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The Snip property optioned from Cominco fit the bill and the first drill program led to a gold discovery. But the 1987 market crash hindered financing and Delaware was ultimately taken over by Murray Pezim and re-named Prime Resources. Undaunted, Netolitzky turned his attention to a nearby prospect with a fruitless exploration history dating back to the 1930s.
After investing in Consolidated Stikine Resources, which held rights to Eskay Creek, Netolitzky teamed up with Calpine Resources to drill-test the prospect. Calpine, a shell company, was used to fund an initial $900,000 program with financing from Prime and Pezim. Results were spectacular, but interest was muted by the unusual nature of the deposit and weak capital markets. Pezim gained control of Calpine and half the deposit, but Stikine held out until Eskay Creek rivals, Placer Dome and International Corona, launched takeovers for Stikine. Shareholders then accepted Corona’s $67-per-share bid. Netolitzky was Stikine’s technical person and one of five controlling shareholders.
Next, as president of Loki Gold, Netolitzky transformed the Brewery Creek project into an open-pit heap-leach operation. This was no small feat, as the Yukon project is located above the Arctic Circle. Brewery Creek poured its first gold in 1996. By this point, Netolitzky had merged Loki with Baja Mining and Viceroy Gold to create an entity with annual production of 200,000 ounces of gold. Viceroy went on to acquire the Gualcamayo gold project in Argentina, later sold to Yamana Gold.
Netolitzky received the Bill Dennis Prospector of the Year Award in 1990, and the E.A. Scholz Award in 1996, for his discovery and development achievements. He continued to find opportunities for junior companies. At Spectrum Gold, he obtained rights to the Galore Creek copper-gold-silver project in B.C. and later merged the company with NovaGold Resources. He was the chairman of Brett Resources, which acquired the Hammond Reef gold project in Ontario, later sold to Osisko Mining. He was also involved in many international projects. At Oliver Gold, he helped acquire the Segala gold deposit in Mali, now held by Endeavour Mining. Oliver morphed into Canico Resources, which developed the Onca-Puma nickel deposit in Brazil.
Netolitzky remains active in gold and uranium exploration, notably in Saskatchewan, where he began his career almost 50 years earlier.