Mining promoters have been an integral part of the Canadian mining industry for more than a century, with some more dedicated to discovery – and more successful – than others. Murray Pezim ranks among the most successful of them all; his enthusiasm and perseverance led to the discovery of Ontario’s Hemlo gold camp, one of the great Canadian mineral discoveries, and the Eskay Creek gold deposit in British Columbia. Murray Pezim epitomizes the junior mining sector, the bedrock on which so many mines in this country have been found.
Born in Toronto on December 29, 1920, Pezim served his country during the Second World War before turning to a career in the brokerage industry. He later tried his hand at running junior companies, but success was elusive until he backed International Corona Resources, then exploring a gold prospects in Ontario in the early 1980s.
Major companies did not view the property as promising, as drilling on several showings returned poor results. The lack of interest in the property was compounded by an atypical geological setting which did not conform to the conventional quartz-vein-type gold deposits exploited in the past.
Pezim ignored the skeptics and continued to promote Corona and raise funds for a drill program outlined by geologist David Bell. The good results the industry finally took notice of were the fruit borne of 76 drill holes and an exploration expenditure of $2 million. Corona eventually secured Teck Corporation as a partner in developing the David Bell mine.
Teck also backed Corona’s legal battle with Lac Minerals for ownership of an adjacent property. It was generally thought that Corona had little chance of success, but, in August of 1989, Teck and Corona were awarded control of the rich Williams mine Lac had built in the Hemlo camp.
Although Pezim eventually lost control of Corona, the Hemlo camp continues to provide economic benefits for the people of Canada; the three gold mines there account for the bulk of Canada’s gold production.
Pezim undertook another project in the late 1980s, raising funds for Calpine Resources, which was exploring the rugged and remote Eskay Creek property in northern British Columbia. Calpine and partner Stikine Resources encountered success soon after work began, but excitement waned when the 21A deposit was found to contain complex metallurgy.
Pezim remained a believer, however, and supported the recommendation of his geological team, headed by Chet Idziszek, to continue drilling in the summer of 1989. Pezim’s faith was rewarded when a stepout hole, the 109th drilled on the property, returned 682 feet grading 0.88 ounces of gold per ton. Subsequent work led to the discovery of the rich 21B deposit, which is currently being mined.
Pezim also played a role in developing the Snip gold and Goldstream polymetallic mines in British Columbia and the Jolu gold mine in Saskatchewan.