Alfred Powis is a company builder with exceptional leadership skills and a keen eye for opportunity. During his tenure as chief executive officer at Noranda, he was instrumental in creating one of the largest natural resource conglomerates in Canada, with few rivals internationally. Under his direction, Noranda’s assets increased from $700 million in 1968 to $11 billion in 1995; a growth 16 times over. But his contributions and achievements were not limited to Noranda. He is also a dynamic business leader and a leading spokesman for the Canadian resource industry and for free trade.

Powis was born in Montreal, and graduated from McGill University in 1950 with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree. He started his career as an investment analyst with Sun Life Assurance. In 1955, he was invited by John Bradfield to join Noranda Mines, where his exceptional executive abilities earned him rapid advancement. He became president and chief executive officer in 1968 and added chairman to those titles in 1977.

In his early career with Noranda, Powis was involved in the acquisition of controlling interests in Mattagami Lake Mines and Brunswick Mining & Smelting. These were but indicators of his subsequent success. During the period 1970 through the mid 1980s, Noranda opened or acquired more than forty mines.

Noranda’s growth under Powis’ leadership reflects expanded interests in the minerals business, including Hemlo Gold Mines, Canadian Electrolytic Zinc, Falconbridge and Noranda Aluminum. Today, Noranda is one of the world’s largest producers of zinc, copper, nickel and aluminum.

Powis also sought strength for Noranda through diversification, which included Noranda Forest, with forest products operations in Canada, the United States and Europe. A further demonstration of his faith in those who shared his vision was his enduring support for Canadian Hunter Exploration, which discovered and developed natural gas fields in Alberta and British Columbia, and became the base of Noranda Energy.

Quick to recognize change, Powis encouraged the initiatives of his commercial staff in market development and international associations. He was also a leader in raising environmental standards.
Equally important, Powis made impressive contributions to the Canadian mining and business communities. During the 1970s, he spearheaded the mining industry through difficult tax and business discussions and served as chairman of the Mining Association of Canada during 1974 and 1975. He was a co founder of the Business Council on National Issues and a key adviser in the Canada U.S. free trade negotiations.

Powis’s contribution to Noranda, the mining industry and, indeed, to Canadian society as a whole is unapproachable. Many honors have been bestowed upon him. In 1984, he was invested into the Order of Canada; in 1991, he received the prestigious CIM Inco Medal for his outstanding contribution to the mining and metallurgical industries of Canada; and in 1996, he was inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame, in recognition of his vision, standards of excellence and remarkable contribution to the prosperity of our country.


Few events in mining history have generated as much excitement or public attention as the Lac de Gras diamond discoveries in Canada’s North during the early 1990s. Stewart (Stu) Blusson was an intellectual catalyst for this transformative event, which led to development of Ekati, Canada’s first diamond mine, and other significant discoveries.

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