Karl Springer, a highly successful mine-finder, has amply proved in his career as a prospector that not only could he find the mines but that he could provide the inspirational leadership and drive to make them pay.
As well, he has done pioneer work, particularly with the helicopter, in the use of aviation in exploration and mine development.
Springer’s name today is closely associated with such notable Canadian mining ventures as Mattagami Lake Mines, Granduc Mines, Barymin Limited, Canada Tungsten Mining Corp., and Newfoundland Zinc.
He was, too, one of the founding members, in 1932, of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada and in 1935 was one of the Association’s first presidents.
Springer’s outlook did not appear all that promising back in the 1920’s, when, with his brother Leo, he barely made a living tending traplines in northern Quebec.
But in 1934, having turned from traplines to claim staking, he formed Karl Springer Exploration Company, resulting in the formation of Springer Sturgeon Gold Mines.
That company later became Barymin Limited, following discovery and development of one of the largest barite mines in the world.
Leitch Gold Mines, a small but highgrade and highly profitable gold producer at Beardmore, Ontario, was another example of Springer’s ability, not only to find mines but to provide excellent management for their dividend-paying operations.
Another long flow of dividends, for instance streamed from Highland-Bell Mines, a silver producer in British Columbia in which Springer and Associates bought control in 1949.
Also located in B.C. was another important Springer-inspired mining company, Granduc Mines, a copper producer, found as the result of exploration work by Springer’s privately-funded Helicopter Exploration company.
He was always aware of the value of aircraft in prospecting and exploration work, and it was under his direction too, that Central British Columbia Airways grew from a small bush-flying air service into what at one time was Canada’s third largest airline, Pacific Western Airlines. (As a footnote, Pacific Western not long ago acquired CP Air, now re-organized as Canadian Airlines International).
Then, utilizing his knowledge of both air service and prospecting, Springer organized, first, the Mattagami Syndicate in which his Leitch and Highland-Bell companies participated to discover the massive zinc-copper-gold-silver orebody of Mattagami Lake Mines in northwestern Quebec, and second the McKenzie Syndicate, which resulted in the discovery, (via a 1957 airborne survey), of Canada Tungsten Mining Corp.‘s exceptional tungsten deposit in the Northwest Territories.
In another Leitch/Highland-Bell joint venture, Springer was responsible for the formation of Newfoundland Zinc, a private company. Discovered in 1963 and put into production in 1975 by Teck Corp., (after Teck had acquired both Leitch and Highland-Bell), Newfoundland Zinc is still in production.
Springer retired from active participation in the mining industry in 1970, having accomplished far more for the industry and the country than ever seemed likely when he was running traplines in the ‘20s.