Franklin Pickard was a miner’s miner and the first Sudbury native to head up a major nickel company. He joined Falconbridge as a young process labourer and rose through the ranks to become the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer.
Pickard’s larger-than-life personality spilled over into his corporate vision and commitment to the industry as he led Falconbridge through some of the most exciting developments in its history. He oversaw the company’s return to the public markets, the opening of the Craig mine in Sudbury and the bid for the Voisey’s Bay nickel deposit, as well as new mine developments at Raglan in northern Quebec and Collahuasi in Chile. His leadership and vision have set Falconbridge on the path to a strong future.
Pickard’s remarkable career at Falconbridge began in the summer of 1950 while he was still a high-school student. After graduating from Queen’s University as a metallurgical engineer, Pickard joined Falconbridge, in 1957, as a process labourer.
He progressed from working at menial jobs to positions at the Hardy and Fecunis mills, the Strathcona mill and the Sudbury smelter. He occupied senior metallurgical positions before moving, in 1975, to Falconbridge’s head office in Toronto to become chief metallurgical engineer. He held a variety of posts at the head office before assuming the top spot in 1991.
A man of vision, Pickard perceived the value of the Collahuasi project in northern Chile, which is expected to double Falconbridge’s annual production of mined copper once it comes on-stream in early 1999. The company owns 44% of the huge project, which hosts an estimated resource of 3.1 billion tonnes averaging 0.82% copper. That calculation is sufficient to sustain mining operations there for 50 years. The Raglan project has been called Pickard’s most outstanding achievement. The nickel-copper project ranks as one of Canada’s newest and most important mines. The agreement between Falconbridge and the Makivik Corporation, which represents Quebec’s Inuit community, is one of the best examples of cooperation between private enterprise and indigenous communities. The parties agreed to give top priority to local Inuit manpower, and a regional training program has been established to ensure that as many Inuit as possible find employment there.
Pickard also expanded Falconbridge’s commitment to the environment. He enlarged the company’s environmental department to manage and develop initiatives and comprehensive auditing and reporting systems, including one to reduce emissions by 71% by the year 2000.
Throughout his endeavours at Falconbridge, Pickard built many sturdy bridges spanning the various sectors and levels of the mining industry, and encouraged Canada’s young people to obtain further education in the fields of mining and metallurgy.
Pickard died as he lived, on a site visit to Chile’s Collahuasi copper deposit, at the age of 63.