J.C. Sproule Northern Exploration Award

For excellence in Northern exploration and development

Origins & Conditions


When he was a child living on a farm near Grande Prairie, Alberta, John Campbell Sproule (born May 13, 1905) occupied himself by exploring nature, either through hunting, trapping or prospecting. His love of nature lead him to pursue a career in geology, and he left home to get his bachelor’s degree at the University of Alberta and later his master’s and PhD at the University of Toronto.

In 1931, Sproule worked as a field assistant on the Fort McMurray oil sands. There, he wrote one of his more influential papers, “Origin of the McMurray Oil Sands, Alberta,” which claimed that the oil in the sands originated from the underlying paleozoic rock – an unpopular deduction at the time that began to be accepted later on.

Sproule eventually joined Imperial Oil, where he worked his way up to chief advisory geologist for International Petroleum Company, then an Imperial subsidiary. He served as CIM president from 1959 to 1960.

On May 21, 1970, Sproule suffered a heart attack while delivering a lecture on the geology of the Canadian Arctic. He died a short while after. The J.C. Sproule Northern Exploration Award was established in 1974.

The J.C. Sproule Northern Exploration Award criteria and other information:

  1. The J.C. Sproule Northern Exploration Award is to be presented to an individual or a team in recognition of eminent achievement or distinguished contributions to the exploration and development of Canada’s mineral resources in the northern regions. The contribution or achievement to be recognized may be made by innovation, research, project management, education or any form of outstanding personal achievement contributing to the extension or understanding of Canada’s northern mineral resources. The term "northern" is to be interpreted broadly and includes the mid and Arctic regions of Canada.
  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. The nominations shall be submitted to the Awards Standing Committee, which will report its recommendations to the Chief Executive Officer.
  4. All nominations shall be accompanied by an authenticated description of the personal achievement of the nominee.
  5. When reasonably possible, the recipient shall be expected to receive the award in person during the course of the CIM Convention Awards Gala following the announcement of the award.
  6. 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.



Sam Bosum

Sam R. Bosum has been an active player in the mining industry in the Chibougamau area, other areas in Quebec, Ontario and other provinces for over 50 years. He has gained experience in many areas of mineral exploration activities ranging from staking, line-cutting and working underground to prospecting and geophysical surveys. He has earned a reputation throughout the mining industry as a highly reliable and conscientious contractor.  Since 1984, he has offered his services through his wholly-owned company, Natives Exploration Services. His views regarding mineral activities in the Chibougamau area are often sought out by industry.

In addition to his professional activities in the mining industry, Bosum has played a key role in the administration of his home community of Oujé-Bougoumou. He has been a continuous member of the local Council since 1984 when his community began organizing themselves politically to re-establish their right to a permanent village. He was an active member of the Council which oversaw the construction of a new village which has received major national and international recognition. He served his community as its Chief from 2000 to 2008 and as Deputy Chief from 1986 to 2000. Since 1986 he has been a Director of the local development corporation.  He has continued to serve as a Councillor of the Ouje-Bougoumou Cree Nation.

In 2014, Bosum was honoured by receiving the Aboriginal Developer Award of the year by the Quebec Mining Association for his decades of work in the mining industry.

In 2015, Bosum was a recipient of the prestigious Skookum Jim Award presented by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada in recognition of a long career and contributing to the mining industry.


Malcolm Robb

Malcolm Robb’s introduction to the geology of Northern Canada was as a student in the summer of 1979 working with Falconbridge in northern Manitoba in the Snow Lake and Leaf Rapids areas. After graduating from the Royal School of Mines in 1980, he returned to Northern Manitoba to work for three years and became fully immersed in the North. From Snow Lake he moved farther north to take up the role of mine geologist at the Salmita gold mine, 250 km north of Yellowknife for five years.  

Following a brief period in the jungle of Guyana in South America, Robb returned to Canada working in Northern Ontario for four years in the Timmins and Kirkland Lake areas before returning to the Northwest Territories (NWT) in 1994. Making his home there, he has spent the last 25 years working for both industry and government in various roles related to mining and exploration in the NWT.