Since 1915, the Northern Miner weekly newspaper has chronicled Canada’s globally significant mining sector.
Duo’s Pierina discovery epitomizes new generation of low-cost mines
At first glance, it seems an unlikely partnership. Yet the weathered, laconic geologist with several major discoveries under his belt and the down-to-earth, female stockbroker with a keen eye for opportunity collaborated to form a junior company, Arequipa Resources, that made one of the most important gold discoveries in South America this past decade.
Their Pierina discovery is now a highly profitable producer, epitomizing the new generation of low-cost gold mines able to make the grade in one of the bleakest gold markets of recent times. Officially opened on April 26, 1999, by owner Barrick Gold (ABX-T), it is now producing gold at a cash cost below US$50 per oz.
David Lowell and Catherine McLeod-Seltzer met in Santiago, Chile, in the early 1990s. She was a struggling stockbroker with Yorkton Securities, but one who knew the mining industry better than most of her peers. Her father, Don McLeod, was already a legend in Vancouver mining circles, known for his gregarious personality and gung-ho attitude toward finding, developing and operating mines. Following in footsteps that big wouldn’t be easy.
Lowell, meanwhile, was a geological legend, best known for his academic and industry expertise in porphyry copper deposits and a growing roster of major discoveries. The holder of a master’s degree in geology from Stanford University and a mining engineering degree from the University of Arizona, he has participated in more than 13 major feasibility studies and managed exploration programs all over the world. His biggest success was in Chile, where he co-discovered the huge Escondida copper deposit, now one of the nation’s largest and richest mines.