Few modern-era geoscientists can match the prolific track record of discovery established by Mark Rebagliati in Canada and abroad over four decades. Several of his discoveries became mines in his home province of British Columbia — notably Mount Milligan and Kemess — while others were found in far-flung parts of the world. He earned his place in an elite class of mine-finders known for exceptional technical skills, remarkable tenacity, and hands-on leadership.
Rebagliati attended the BC & Yukon Chamber of Mines prospecting school and the Haileybury School of Mines before earning a degree in geological engineering from Michigan Technological University in 1969. He worked for Consolidated Goldfields, BP Minerals Canada and other companies, and during the 1970s was a member of the discovery teams at the Red Chris project near Dease Lake, and the QR project near Quesnel, BC. QR became a gold mine and Red Chris evolved into a major porphyry copper-gold deposit and is in development.
The pace of discovery increased after Rebagliati established his own consulting firm and formed an alliance with Vancouver-based Hunter-Dickinson Inc. (HDI) in 1986, which ultimately let to his post as HDI’s executive vice-president of exploration.
His team defined porphyry copper-gold deposits at Mount Milligan, and also brought the project to the feasibility stage before it was bought by a major company in 1990. Mount Milligan began production in 2013. Further north in BC, he advanced the Kemess copper-gold project to the mine-permitting stage. Kemess operated from 2000 to 2011.
In the late 1990s, Rebagliati contributed to Farallon Resources’ discovery of new deposits and the establishment of a massive sulphide district at the Campo Morado project in Mexico’s Guerrero State. In 2001, he led exploration of the Pebble West copper-gold deposit in Alaska, on behalf of Northern Dynasty Minerals. He was also part of the team that identified a new high-grade portion of the deposit called Pebble East. The Pebble deposits are ranked among the largest copper-gold deposits in the world.
As HDI expanded globally, Rebagliati’s credits grew to include the Xietongmen and Newtongmen porphyry copper-gold deposits in Tibet, since purchased by Jinchuan Mining Group for $432 million. These and other accomplishments led to many industry honors, notably the 2007 Thayer Lindsley International Discovery Award and SME’s Robert Dreyer Award in 2008. Rebagliati’s remarkable success has been attributed to his willingness to adopt new ideas and technology, his commitment to high professional standards, and the rare understanding that a deposit is not a static, but a continually evolving project.
Rebagliati has served the industry in other ways, including as a member of an advisory committee of Geoscience BC, and as the author of technical papers and presentations. His expertise in porphyry deposits, based on extensive field experience, is particularly valued and has helped inspire others to find the next generation of these important deposits in BC and other parts of the world.