David Ross Bell is renowned in the mining industry for his pivotal role in discovering and developing the world-class Hemlo gold mining site in northern Ontario.
Hemlo is in a region that had been explored with limited success since 1869. Bell’s commitment to discovery led him to convince Corona Resources to continue drilling, despite initially encountering a lower-grade deposit. His keen mapping skills revealed promising zones. A pivotal moment occurred when Hole 76 uncovered the main zone at Hemlo, forever changing the region’s mining landscape and cementing Bell’s name in mining history.
Following Bell’s discovery, headframes rose over the Teck Corona (David Bell Mine), Noranda (Golden Giant Mine), and Lac Minerals (Williams Mine). Hemlo went on to yield about 22.4 million oz. of gold, with an additional 3.3 million oz. measured and indicated as of 2021, and it is still producing in 2023.
The Hemlo discovery’s significance reverberated across northern Ontario, creating jobs, and stimulating local economies over three decades. The ripple effect extended beyond Hemlo, igniting staking rushes and exploration activities in neighbouring areas.
Born and raised in Kirkland Lake, Ont., Bell’s journey into the world of geology began early. During high school he worked alongside prospectors, sparking his passion for geology that led him to Falconbridge Nickel in Sudbury, where he worked as a miner. His talent and dedication soon caught the eye of industry leaders, and he was sent to Timmins to open an exploration office.
Bell’s thirst for knowledge and determination to excel led him back to school at the age of 27. He completed a rigorous four-year geology program in just three years. He then went to Dome Mine, where he assumed the role of project geologist at the Detour Lake project.
In 1980, Bell founded David Bell Geological Services. In 1981, he embarked on his first contracting job, a journey that would take him to Hemlo for Corona Resources. (Corona later optioned the property to Teck.) Shortly after, Bell joined Goliath Resources where he made significant contributions before the company was optioned to Noranda.
Bell’s impact extended beyond his geological prowess. His testimony in the Lac Minerals vs International Corona Resources trial over the Williams claims revolutionized how mining companies operated, leading to the implementation of confidentiality agreements for property visitors.
His work with Micham Resources extended beyond Canada, showcasing his global reach and geological acumen, from Switzerland to China and pioneering gold exploration in Cuba.
Throughout his career, Bell was a member of several industry organizations such as the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) and the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM). He served as a director for various prominent companies, including Franco-Nevada, Euro Nevada, Chariot Resources, Micham, CaribGold and FTM Resources.
Recognized as Prospector of the Year in 1982 by the PDAC, Bell’s uncanny ability to identify promising mineral deposits earned him a reputation as someone with a ‘nose for ore.’ His insight into the geological potential of properties was a driving force behind many successful ventures in the mining industry.
Bell’s legacy is deeply rooted in his ability to envision what lies beneath the Earth’s surface and his unwavering determination to bring that vision to reality.