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David Robertson became a respected statesman of Canada’s mining industry through technical accomplishment and impeccable integrity displayed during a distinguished career spanning more than six decades. Along with other industry giants, he earned his stripes in the mid-1950s for his role in the discovery of uranium deposits at Elliott Lake, Ontario. In 1965, he founded David S. Robertson & Associates, a consulting firm that grew in stature as it expanded from its Canadian base to other countries. Robertson’s career took on a new dimension in the mid-1970s, after he was retained by the Saskatchewan government to evaluate potash assets for a newly formed Crown corporation. He earned a reputation for credible valuations and as an expert witness in litigation and arbitration cases. His expertise was in demand after his firm merged with Coopers & Lybrand Consulting Group in 1982, and for decades beyond.
Born in Winnipeg, Robertson graduated with a BSc degree in physical chemistry and geology from the University of Manitoba in 1946. After earning his doctorate at Columbia University in 1949, he worked as a researcher before moving to Angola, where he was in charge of a post-war Marshall Plan program. He joined the consulting firm of GMX Corporation upon his return to Canada in 1955, and became its president in 1958. During this period he led an exploration program that discovered the Elliot Lake uranium deposits on which Stanrock Uranium Mines was based. He became a vice-president of Stanrock and remained a director until the company was acquired by Denison Mines in 1964. Robertson continued to work extensively in uranium exploration after forming his namesake consulting company, resulting in the discoveries of the Agnew Lake mine in Ontario, and the Mount Taylor deposit in New Mexico. He also made contributions to understanding the time-bound nature of uranium deposits and the geological environments in which they occur.
With past experience in potash, Robertson was appointed chief evaluator on behalf of the government of Saskatchewan as it prepared to establish the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan as a Crown corporation. Despite controversy over the government action, Robertson’s valuations were acknowledged as fair by all parties. He continued to provide expert advice to the mining industry as a partner of Coopers & Lybrand until 1987, and subsequently as an independent consultant for more than 20 years. Founding chairman of both Ashton Mining of Canada and Meridian Gold, he was a valued board member of other companies as well. He served on several advisory committees and was president of the CIM from 1993 to 1994. Not the least of his achievements is a legacy of generous mentorship of young talent, notably former employees who later formed their own consulting firms or held senior positions with mining companies.