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John Kostuik exemplified the rough and ready ways of the hard-rock miner. A mining engineer, he cut his teeth by somehow managing to eke out of profits for what was in the late 1930s the lowest-grade mine in Canada. Howey Gold Mines, in fact, proved to be a training ground for low-cost mining methods. He was later to take the fledgling Denison uranium mine from its early development days to full-blown production.
Born in Poland in July, 1911, John Kostuik came to Canada in that same year with his parents. He was educated at Queen’s University, graduating from Mining Engineering in 1934. His post-graduate studies involved ventilation and siticosis research.
Kostuik grew up in the booming, driving atmosphere of Cobalt, Ont. After graduation, he became mine superintendent of the Howey gold mine. He later displayed ingenuity at the Sladen Malartic operation, introducing mucking machines at drawpoints for loading ore, a major innovation at the time.
From the goldfields of the Abitibi belt, Kostuik signed on with Newmont Mining in French Morocco. His experience there with a big-tonnage base-metal mine, coupled with his earlier achievements in squeezing profits from low-grade gold mines, made him an ideal candidate for the new Denison development near Elliot Lake, Ont.
In 1955, Stephen B. Roman hired Kostuik as Denison’s mine manager. It was Kostuik who brought the mine to full production. By 1969, he had become President and Chief Operating Officer of Denison.
In 1964 and 1965, he served as president of the Ontario Mining Association. In 1969 and 1970, he was president of the Mining Association of Canada. He gained international stature in 1975 when he served a two-year term as Chairman of the Uranium Institute in London, England.
Kostuik has received recognition from the Sir William Casimir Gzowski Society and the Canadian Nuclear Association, winning the Ian McRae Award.