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William S. (Steve) Vaughan helped elevate the stature of Canada’s mining industry at home and abroad as a leading expert and advisor on natural resource law, project finance and mineral policy matters for more than 40 years. With a rare background in both geology and law, he served as head of the mining practice for a number of Toronto based law firms and earned his peer-ranked status as one of best mining lawyers in Canada and the world. His expertise has benefited countless clients involved in resource development in more than 65 countries and strengthened the legal administration of the global minerals industry. Vaughan is also known as a trailblazing advocate of corporate social responsibility and a dedicated industry advocate. He was involved in numerous initiatives to improve mining and investment policies in Canada, and promoting industry best practices. In the aftermath of the 1997 Bre-X debacle, he was a driving force behind the OSC/TSX Mining Standards Task Force, which called for new mining disclosure standards, later adopted as National Instrument 43-101. He actively supported the successful globalization of the Canadian mining industry and helped numerous foreign jurisdictions lay the foundation for progressive mining policies and fiscal regimes. As the “Elder Dean” of the Canadian mining legal fraternity, he was an exemplary mentor to dozens of young mining lawyers in Canada and other mining nations.
Born in Fredericton, N.B., Vaughan earned a B.Sc. degree in geology from the University of New Brunswick (UNB) in 1959, followed by a M.Sc. degree from McGill University in 1962 and an LLD (honoris causa) from UNB in 2015. After completing his law degree at UNB in 1965, he joined Aird & Berlis and became head of its Toronto-based mining group. His client list expanded in the 1990s as companies faced regulatory roadblocks, permitting challenges and stakeholder opposition to foreign and domestic projects. In the early ‘90s, he participated in the multi-stakeholder Whitehorse Mining Initiative and its efforts to seek consensus-based support for responsible mineral development in Canada. The rapport he developed with government official and other stakeholders subsequently led to policy reforms and broad acceptance and advancement of mining’s role as an economic engine in Canada and the developing world.
Vaughan drafted the first flow-through share mining prospectus financing in Canada. Vaughan also played a leadership role as the only local member of the Mining Standards Task Force Committee established by the OSC and the TSX to restore investor confidence after the Bre-X scandal. Many of the committee’s recommendations, including stronger disclosure standards for mineral projects and the involvement of a Qualified Person, were incorporated into National Instrument 43-101 and adopted in 2001.
Vaughan has been a director of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) for more than 35 years, and strongly supported its successful transition from a domestic-focused entity into a leading international mining association. He helped organize gatherings of the world’s mine ministers and shared his expertise through published papers and lectures while serving as a distinguished ambassador of Canada’s mining industry. He was also an inspirational mentor to a new generation of mining lawyers in Canada, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Mongolia, China, South Korea and many other mining nations.
Vaughan was the recipient of PDAC’s Distinguished Service Award in 2002 and was named a Distinguished Lecturer by the Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy for 2002/2003.