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Two prospectors honoured by the OPA

March 1, 2012
by Scott Haddow
In: Exploration with 0 Comments

David Beilhartz never grows tired of a good laugh when it comes to talking about his retirement from the mining industry. It lasted less than a year. Beilhartz retired in 2008 after more than 20 years of prospecting and consulting, but in late 2009, Trelawney Mining and Exploration talked him into having another go at it.

It was a wise move as Beilhartz, Trelawney’s vice president of exploration, played a leading role in the company’s Coté Lake discovery in December 2009.It was the find of a lifetime.“It is every geologist’s jackpot,” he said. “After two years of exploration, we still don’t know the true size of the deposit. Our hope is to double the 4.2 million ounces of gold that we found in our first year of drilling. It has turned out to be a huge deposit. Some people think everything has been found in Eastern Canada, but discoveries like this one prove there are more out there.”Beilhartz, along with fellow prospector Mike Leahy, were honoured by the Ontario Prospectors Association in late 2011 –  Beilhartz for his many years of exploration and success and Leahy for his work on political issues and successful prospecting.

Beilhartz is a graduate of Laurentian University and worked as a geologist for Inco Ltd. in the late 80s and early 90s before making his move into consulting and prospecting.

He has contributed to several significant finds over the last 25 years, but he’s most proud of the Coté Lake discovery because of its potential to be a big producer. He is also fond of his time with Lake Shore Gold Corp., where he served as vice-president of exploration from 2006 to 2008. Beilhartz was behind the discovery of the Timmins West claim, which went into commercial production in January 2011, as well as the Thunder Creek discovery.

Beilhartz attributes his success to more than just a nose for gold.

“Most geologists are lucky to be involved in one major discovery, but I’ve been lucky enough to have been involved in three,” he said. “I keep saying it is luck, but it takes teamwork and a lot of good people to have success. It was my luck to be in the right places at the right times. It is a privilege to be recognized by my peers for the success I’ve had in my career.”

Trelawney and Beilhartz will be busy this year, as there will be eight to 12 drills turning on the Coté Lake property in order to keep the project moving toward production.

So much for retirement.

Leahy has been a prospector since the early 70s. During more than 30 years of work, he has staked thousands of claims and negotiated around 100 option deals with various companies. Leahy has seen and done it all in his time. He is also proud of his volunteer work.

“The single most rewarding thing was helping to write the new Mining Act in the late 80s,” he said. “It involved some significant and positive changes that bore fruit. Not long after I got involved in the business, prospecting organizations from across Ontario got together and we eventually formed the Ontario Prospectors Association. It was a giant step forward and gave us one voice. It’s something to be proud of.”

Leahy is semi-retired and figures he won’t be in the game much longer. He sees troubled waters ahead, especially for young prospectors and small exploration companies.

“There are changes coming to the Mining Act in 2012 that will impact everyone,” he said. “The government has not established clear rules (on First Nation consultation) and we’re heading into a quagmire. I don’t blame the First Nations people, but the proper mechanism hasn’t been set up. It increases the time and money needed just to put a foot on the ground to explore. It will be onerous for the small guys. I’m not looking forward to it and it’s a reason I’ve slipped into retirement. As a single prospector, I can’t deal with it. The changes the last few years have resulted in fewer young people getting involved. With these new changes, it will make it even harder for younger people to get into prospecting.”

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