Ross D. Lawrence is credited with elevating Canadian geological expertise and the growth of the Canadian mining industry on a global scale. In a career spanning decades, Lawrence achieved international recognition for his knowledge in mineral property valuation, mineral policy development, economic analysis of mining projects, and project management.
A founding partner of Watts, Griffis, and McOuat Limited (WGM) in 1962, Lawrence played a pivotal role in the company’s success and global recognition. Alongside his partners Murray Watts, Tom Griffis and Jack McOuat, he led the charge into international waters, working in more than 100 countries. WGM established satellite offices in Australia, England, Alaska, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, and Indonesia, strengthening the presence of the Canadian brand on the international mining stage.
Lawrence was instrumental in setting up teams of geologists and mining experts, enabling WGM to flourish into a globally renowned consulting firm. He was also actively involved in policy development, advising governments in such countries as Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
WGM’s legacy includes the discovery or acquisition/development of many significant mines including Red Dog, Mary River, Raglan, Asbestos Hill, Green’s Creek, Pogo, Voisey’s Bay, Fort Knox, and Al Masane. Lawrence was a key member of the WGM team engaged on these projects.
One of Lawrence’s notable technical contributions was the development of a technique for diamond drilling 12-inch diameter core for bulk sampling, a pioneering method displayed in WGM’s lobby today.
He also led WGM’s transition into mineral valuation in 1980, an area of practice that would become integral to the firm’s portfolio. Lawrence was a key member of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum’s committee responsible for establishing standards governing mineral valuation. He was also an early member of the International Institute of Minerals Appraisers, underscoring his commitment to industry excellence and professionalism.
Lawrence served for many years as president of the Canadian Association of Mining Equipment and Services for Export and was chairman of the Northern Centre for Advanced Technology in Sudbury.
Born in Toronto, Lawrence’s journey in the mining industry began with a bachelor of applied science in geological engineering in 1956 and a master of commerce in mining finance in 1959, both earned at the University of Toronto. He embarked on his career at WGM in 1962, a company he helped shape and elevate over many decades.
His expertise extended to economic analysis and cash flow models for feasibility studies, serving clients worldwide. Noteworthy projects ranged from exploration for ilmenite in Madagascar to evaluating exploration and geoscientific programs in Saudi Arabia and geological mapping in Iran.
While working globally, Lawrence never forgot home. He played a significant role in redefining the Professional Engineers Ontario Guideline for professional engineers providing reports on mineral properties, benefitting geologists and evaluators.
In 1986, Lawrence and his fellow class executives initiated a fundraising campaign to establish the Class of 5T6 Engineering Award of Merit, benefiting outstanding engineering students at the University of Toronto. His contributions also extended to supporting Mining Matters, an organization devoted to educating students and others about the impact of the mining industry on Canada’s well-being.
Ross D. Lawrence is a trailblazer in the industry, a ‘behind-the-scenes’ figure whose tenacity and dedication have paved the way for others’ success. His work has raised the international profile of Canadian mining expertise and promoted the Canadian brand around the globe.