J.C. Sproule Northern Exploration Award


J.C. Sproule Northern Exploration Award

For excellence in Northern exploration and development

Origins & Conditions



As 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. 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 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.


There is only one recipient of this award every year. This award is for both individual or team nominations.

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Craig Hart

Dr. Craig J.R. Hart is a mineral deposit geologist with a passion for frontiers.  He is a past Director of MDRU-Mineral Deposit Research Unit and Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC) (2009-2021) where he initiated industry-sponsored exploration research and training projects across frontier regions of North and South America, Asia and Eastern Europe. He was also a researcher at the University of Western Australia (UWA, 2006-2009) investigating gold deposits across northern China and Mongolia.  Most of his formative career was in the Yukon, and he was a founding geologist with the Yukon Geological Survey (1992-2006) completing regional mapping and mineral deposit projects across Yukon and Alaska.  Here, he developed intrusion-related gold exploration models which are a current exploration focus in Yukon as Chair of Snowline Gold Corp.  He was also a Top-5 finisher and Audience Choice winner of the Integra Gold Rush Challenge (2016).  He has degrees from McMaster University (BSc), UBC (MSc) and UWA (PhD) and is currently an explorer, consultant, advisor and director for several ambitious explorers. 

Distinguished Lecturer 2021-22

Linking Cordilleran Lithospheric Architecture to Mineral Deposits

Lecture Abstract


The provinciality of mineral deposits emphasizes crustal and lithospheric-scale controls on their distribution.  For magmatic-associated deposits, the crust and lithosphere are the primary melt and metal sources so they control the limits of fertility and metal tenor.  The crustal blocks that comprise the North American Cordillera are the fundamental controls to its metallogenic diversity, but the geometry and composition of the ancient western Laurentian margin that formed during late NeoProterozoic rifting of Rodinia dominates as a controlling force on Paleozoic, Mesozoic and even Cenozoic, tectonic, magmatic and metallogenic events.  Asymmetric Neoproterozoic rifting formed a continental margin architecture of exposed upper plate promontories and lower plate basins that are juxtaposed across transform zones.   The lower plate is characterized by stratiform base metal and barite deposits that formed during punctuated periods of Paleozoic extension, but is underlain by a previously metasomatized lithospheric mantle that contributed Mesozoic alkaline to peraluminous magmas that generated widespread gold and tungsten metal provinces.  These same lower plate packages subsequently formed Carlin-type gold districts during the Cenozoic that were controlled by the locations of reactivated continental margin rift structures.  Yukon and Nevada share similar metallogenic tenors because they are both hosted by lower plate components of the ancient rifted margin.  


Mark Rebagliati

Mark Rebagliati was born in Lytton, British Columbia and graduated from the Haileybury School of Mines in 1966 before earning a degree in geological engineering from Michigan Technological University in 1969. 

After working for major mining companies, he established his own consulting firm and formed an alliance with Vancouver-based Hunter Dickinson in 1986. He was on or lead teams that discovered six deposits that attained production, the discovery of the giant Pebble East porphyry deposit in Alaska and two porphyry deposits in Tibet China. 

These and other accomplishments led to many industry honours, notably the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada Thayer Lindsley International Discovery Award in 2007, the Society of Mining and Metallurgy Robert M. Dreyer Award in 2008, and his induction into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame in 2014.