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Côme Carbonneau had an unusual career for a mining man. It straddled not only the academic and private-sector fields, but also reached into the public sector where he became the builder and developer of the novel, state-owned enterprise known as SOQUEM. During his time with Quebec’s SOQUEM from 1965 to 1977, the company discovered five mineral deposits at an average cost of $3 million per discovery. The Doyon mine, currently among the largest Canadian gold producers, was his biggest exploration achievement with SOQUEM.
Born in November, 1923, in Sainte-Foy, Que., Carbonneau earned a B.A. from Laval University in 1943; a B.A.Sc. in 1948, again from Laval; an M.A.Sc. from the University of British Columbia in 1949; and a Ph.D. in Geology from McGill University in 1953. He was a post-doctoral fellow at Louvain University, Belgium in 1954.
From 1951 to 1963, he was professor of Geology at Ecole Polytechnique and the University of Montreal. He then went into the private sector, joining St. Lawrence Columbium as executive vice-president.
It was in 1965 that he became founding president of SOQUEM. Under his leadership, he introduced an entrepreneurial strategy that today goes under the buzzword “intraprenuership.” On the technical side, SOQUEM exploration teams control developed an inexpensive airborne radiometric and spectrometric survey system that was flown in light aircraft. This led to three niobium discoveries.
From 1981 to 1986, he was president and CEO of Falconbridge Copper. During his tenure, three deposits were discovered - the Ansil base metal orebody, the Lac Shortt gold mine and the Winston Lake zinc operation.
Throughout his mining career, his tenacity, leadership and dedication resulted in the development of other mines as well, the Niobec mine, for example, and the Seleine and Louvem mines.
After SOQUEM, he returned to academia joining the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Laval University.
Carbonneau has been on the board of governors of both Laval and McGill universities. He was also a member of the Canadian Mineral Industry Education Foundation.
Numerous awards have come his way, notably the Selwyn G. Blaylock Medal and the A.O. Dufresne Award, both from the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum, and the Nicolas-Denys Award of the Association of Prospectors of Quebec. As well, he is an Officer of the Order of Canada. He also received a Laureate of the Geoscientific Merit Award from the Professional Association of Geologists and Geophysicists of Quebec.