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As a scientist, an explorationist, an entrepreneur, an innovator and a mining leader, Dr. Norman B. Keevil has contributed mightily to his industry, his province, and his country.
Teck Corporation started life with a few small gold mines in Ontario and Quebec. Thirty years ago its revenues were $11 million, mainly from oil, and its assets amounted to $48 million.
After a number of amalgamations, a move to Vancouver from Toronto, a merger and a name change, Teck Cominco today is a diversified mining and refining company. It mines gold, base metals and coal in Canada, the U.S. and Peru, and refines metals in Canada and Peru. It is the world’s largest zinc miner. In 2002 its revenues were over $2 billion, and its assets were valued at over $5 billion.
Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where his Saskatoon-born father was undertaking research at Harvard, Keevil obtained a B.A.Sc. in applied geology from the University of Toronto in 1959, and a Ph.D. from the University of California (Berkeley) in 1964. He joined Teck in 1962. In 1981 he became President and Chief Executive Officer, then chairman and CEO in 2000, and non-Executive Chairman in 2001.
According to Keevil, there are three things necessary to build a successful mining company: good orebodies, the financial capital to develop them, and good people.
This philosophy obviously works, for Teck Cominco has built successful mines across Canada, in British Columbia, the Yukon, Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland, and in more recent years in Australia, Chile, Peru and the United States.
Keevil is a shrewd deal-maker with an uncanny ability to recognize emerging situations in their early stages, for example, the Northeast B.C. coal developments, the Hemlo gold camp, and Voisey’s Bay. In 1986 Teck surprised the corporate community by joining with Metallgesellschaft and MIM to buy a 31% interest in Cominco Limited. Eventually Teck bought out its partners. In 2001 it increased its interest to 100%, and Teck Cominco was born.
For decades, Norman Keevil has had the reputation of dealing fairly with prospectors and junior mining companies. His pursuit of win-win scenarios has made Teck the “Partner of Choice” for many of them.
Throughout times of volatile metal prices and difficult financial circumstances he has worked with government and others in the industry through the Mining Association of Canada to bring benefits to the entire industry that might otherwise not have been. As Chairman of MAC he also made a significant contribution to the development of MAC’s Environmental Policy.
On many occasions, particularly in B.C., Keevil has taken the lead in organizing industry support of positive government initiatives, just as he has taken the lead in providing constructive criticism of negative government policy.
He has built bridges between academic research and industry. He is an avid supporter of the Mineral Deposits Research Unit at the University of British Columbia. Teck Cominco established the Norman B. Keevil Chair in Mineral Exploration at UBC, raising the level of research activity and the profile of mineral exploration.
In addition to his support for UBC, Keevil helped to establish the Teck Chair in Exploration Geophysics at the University of Toronto, a Canadian Mining Chair at the Mining Centre of the Engineering Faculty of the Pontificia, Universidad Catolica de Chile, and a scholarship in earth sciences at the University of Western Ontario.
Dr. Keevil’s business acumen, his vision and his leadership, relating to mining industry and broad-based community issues as well as his own company, have produced a remarkable inductee for the CMHF. In this, he follows in the footsteps of his father, Dr. Norman B. Keevil Sr, who was inducted into the CMHF in 1990, yet he walks his own distinguished path.