A.O. Dufresne Exploration Achievement Award

For exceptional contribution to mining exploration in Canada

Origins & Conditions


The A.O. Dufresne Exploration Achievement Award was instituted in 1977 in honour of Dr. A.O. Dufresne, a revered Past President of CIM, who provided outstanding service to the mineral industry. Born April 10, 1890, Dufresne dedicated his entire career to the development of the province’s mining sector through his work at the Quebec Bureau of Mines, where he was eventually appointed minister. There, he would make significant changes to mining legislation and safety, and helped develop mining communities. 

Dufresne was equally devoted to educating future mining experts and improving the province’s mines. He established several university scholarship funds and founded the École des Mines at the University of Laval in 1934. He was named the first French-Canadian president of CIM in 1950.

  1. The A.O. Dufresne Exploration Achievement Award is presented to an individual or a team in recognition of exceptional achievements or distinguished contributions to mining exploration in Canada. The contribution or achievement to be recognized may be by innovation, research, project management, education, or any form of outstanding personal achievement contributing to the extension or understanding of exploration in the Canadian mining industry. The term "exploration" may be interpreted broadly.
  2. The award may be presented from time to time as circumstances warrant, but not more than one award shall be made in any given year.
  3. Nominations for the award shall be made over the signatures of at least ten (10) CIM national members.
  4. When reasonably possible, the recipient shall be expected to receive the Medal in person during the CIM Convention Awards Gala, following the announcement of the award, or at such a time or place as CIM Council may direct.
  5. All nominations properly presented shall remain in good standing for a period of three (3) years unless formally withdrawn over the signatures of a majority of members responsible for the nomination.
  6. Nominees should be CIM National Members.



Alain Blackburn

Alain Blackburn is a professional engineer with a bachelor’s degree in geological engineering from the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi and a master’s degree in project management from the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue. He is a long-time member of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec.

In 1986, he participated in the discovery of the 2.5-million-ounce Bousquet 2 gold deposit in the Abitibi region, Quebec, before joining Agnico Eagle.

During 30 years at Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd., Blackburn has overseen the discovery of approximately 42 million ounces of gold, spending US$1.2 billion on exploration. He views the discovery of a deposit as a team achievement. In 1993, he participated in AEMQ’s Découverte de l‘Année as chief geologist at the LaRonde mine in the Abitibi. He received the AEMQ Award for Entrepreneur de l’Année on behalf of Agnico Eagle Mines in 2003. As senior vice president of exploration at Agnico Eagle, he directed the discovery of the Lapa deposit in the Abitibi that received the Prix Developpement de l’Année from AEMQ in 2004. He supervised the company’s Val d’Or exploration team, which discovered the Whale Tail and V zones in Nunavut that received the PDAC’s Bill Dennis Award in 2017.

Blackburn has contributed to Agnico Eagle’s acquisition of properties at Kittila in Finland, Meadowbank and Meliadine in Nunavut, and Pinos Altos and La India in Mexico, which were developed into mines, as well as the Canadian Malartic mine. These properties contained 28 million ounces of gold at the time of acquisition at a cost of US$3.3 billion.


Dr. Dean McDonald

Dr. Dean McDonald holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geology from McMaster University and the University of New Brunswick, respectively. He also holds a PhD in mineral deposits geology from Western University.

Early in his career, Dr. McDonald was involved in the discovery of new deposits at Les Mines Selbaie in northern Quebec. Later, as chief geologist at the Miramar Con Mine, his team defined the largest reserve in the mine’s 60-year history and was also involved in the EXTECH study of the Yellowknife Greenstone Belt.

As exploration manager at Miramar's Hope Bay project, Dr. McDonald was part of the team that discovered the Naartok and Suluk deposits and expanded existing deposits. As vice president, exploration of Committee Bay Resources, he participated in the discovery of the Three Bluffs deposit in this new greenstone belt in Nunavut. As senior vice president, exploration with Hecla Mining Company, Dr. McDonald’s team added 300 million ounces of silver reserves in the past 10 years, marking the highest reserves in the company’s 125-year history. His team has also successfully extended mine life at the Casa Berardi Mine and advanced an extensive land package in Quebec.

Dr. McDonald has also been a contributor in international discoveries at San Sebastian in Mexico, Mantua in Cuba and Agua Rica in Argentina. He is an active volunteer in the mining industry and is a Fellow of the Society of Economic Geologists and Geological Association of Canada.