For David Grenville (Gren) Thomas, the big score was the discovery of Diavik by his Aber Resources more than 20 years ago.
Thomas and his partners headed north and got to work in the early days of the staking rush following Chuck Fipke’s 1991 discovery of diamonds in the Northwest Territories. It took a few years, but in 1994 and 1995, Aber discovered the kimberlite pipes that became Diavik, Canada’s second diamond mine. Diavik, still producing, is a joint venture between 60% owner Rio Tinto (RIO*US) and Aber successor Dominion Diamond (DDC) (40%).
John Robins' connection to the Yukon runs deep -- his great-great grandfather trekked north as part of the Klondike gold rush of 1896 to 1899, joining an estimated 100,000 prospectors seeking their fortunes.
Warke's knack for extracting maximum value from his plays - he had described Hudbay's first offer as "grossly inadequate" - was also evident in the sale of Ventana Gold in 2011, the year gold hit almost US$1,900 an ounce. Warke, Ventana's cofounder and executive chairman, sold the company and its La Bodega gold deposit in Colombia for $1.53 billion to Brazilian Eike Batista, after rebuffing the deal maker's initial offer. (Batista's resource empire subsequently went bust, reducing his multibillion-dollar empire to bankruptcy.)
Brendan Bell, the acting CEO of Dominion Diamond (DDC), took an unconventional route to the C-suite. Neither a geologist nor an investment banker, Bell was a cabinet minister in the Northwest Territories before joining the northern diamond producer in July 2013. As the company's stock has plummeted recently, Bell has been buying. He purchased 5,000 shares at $18.14 on June 25, following that up with another 5,000-share buy four days later at $17.65.
When mining engineer Bruce McLeod took the helm at Nunavut gold play Sabina Gold and Silver (SBB) in mid-February, he promptly bought 36,500 shares in the public market at 39 cents.
Like many junior gold stocks, Sabina has been pummelled on the Toronto Stock Exchange, falling from highs above $7 in 2011. Unlike most, Sabina has a resource estimate exceeding 5 million ounces of high-grade gold in the measured and indicated categories.
Sean Roosen wasted no time establishing a gold royalty powerhouse, Osisko Gold Royalties (OR), last year after selling his Osisko Mining and its Malartic gold mine in Quebec to a Yamana Gold (YRI)/Agnico Eagle (AEM) consortium for $3.9 billion.
The Osisko Gold Royalties chairman and CEO added another prize royalty with the friendly takeover of Quebec-focused Virginia Mines. That deal gave Osisko a 2-3.5% NSR on Goldcorp's Eleonore mine in Quebec, which recently went into commercial production.