Allan MacTavish
2021 Goldich Medal Recipient

ILSG members, Goldich Medal recipients and guests, it is my privilege to present the citation for this year’s recipient of the Goldich Medal, Allan MacTavish.

Allan received his Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in geology from Laurentian University in 1977. Over the past 44 years, he has spent much of his career working as an economic geologist in the Lake Superior region, both in the mineral exploration industry and with the Ontario government. Early on, Allan also somehow found the time to be a part-time graduate student at Lakehead University, where he completed a Master of Science (M.Sc.) thesis entitled “The Geology, Petrology, Sulphide and Platinum-Group Element Mineralization of the Quetico Intrusions, Northwestern Ontario” in 1992. Since completing this project, much of Allan’s work has been focussed on the evaluation of copper-nickel-platinum group element (Cu-Ni-PGE) deposits.

While working in the private sector, Allan has led numerous field exploration programs in the Lake Superior region that have targeted Cu-Ni-PGE, volcanogenic massive sulphide and gold deposits. Most notably, he has served since 2007 as Exploration Manager for Magma Metals (Canada) Ltd./Panoramic PGMs (Canada) Ltd. and most recently as Vice President Project Manager with Clean Air Metals Inc., with a primary focus on the Thunder Bay North Cu-Ni-PGE project. At Thunder Bay North, Allan has led teams of geoscientists from the grassroots exploration phase, through to mineral resource delineation. The initial exploration success at Thunder Bay North, largely attributed to Allan’s leadership, sparked a staking rush in the Nipigon Embayment and consequently, a flurry of exploration activity and investment in the region. Although exploration activity in the project area has waxed and waned over the past 14 years, Allan’s persistence is now paying off, with Clean Air Metals having reported a significant mineral resource expansion during the winter of 2021, along with an exciting new intersection of high-grade massive sulphides. Furthermore, his work on the Thunder Bay North project, and his support of academic research work into the Current Lake intrusive complex, has made significant contributions to our understanding of chonolith-hosted magmatic sulphide deposits and the greater Midcontinent Rift system.
One of Allan’s most notable skills is his competence as a field mapping geologist, an aspect of geology that has largely become a lost art. This skill was developed through his long list of positions, including a stint as a Field Geoscientist with the Ontario Geological Survey, during which he mapped the Montcalm greenstone belt. Even in the private sector, any project under Allan’s watch can be counted on to include solid geological mapping. This steadfast belief in the core fundamentals of geology has led to a significant advancement in our understanding of many geological districts in the Lake Superior region, including the Hemlo gold camp, the Coldwell complex, the Nipigon Embayment, the Atikokan-Quetico district and the Abitibi greenstone belt. Understanding the importance of a solid foundation in geological mapping as part of the training for future geoscientists, Allan has also been a long-time supporter of the Precambrian Research Centre (PRC), focussing his contributions toward the PRCs mapping school and the students therein.

It was during Allan’s time working on his M.Sc. project, when I was a fellow graduate student, that I first got to know him. I quickly gained an appreciation for his knowledge and enthusiasm for the science of geology. I consider myself fortunate that, shortly after graduation, I became one of the many aspiring geoscientists who have benefitted from Allan’s mentorship when he hired me as a field assistant for a short-term project. More recently, the Lakehead University Student Chapter of the Society of Economic Geologists (SEG) has also been privy to Allan’s wisdom and knowledge. Since its inception in 2014, he has served as the Industry Representative for the SEG student chapter, assisting the group with fundraising and field trip endeavours, most notably trips to Arizona and Ireland. The Geology Department at Lakehead University has long known the benefit of having Allan as an associate, whether as a voice for industry to help direct departmental decisions, or as an employer hiring a geology student during or immediately following their studies.

Allan’s contributions to the Institute on Lake Superior geology are many. He has tirelessly supported the ILSG by serving as a Board member, Goldich Award Committee member, Annual Conference planning committee member, and as an individual contributor to the ILSG Student Travel Scholarship. Dating back to 1985, Allan is credited as an author for 7 abstracts and 4 field trip guides, plus as an editor for 3 field trip guidebooks. Allan has led field trips for ILSG annual meetings, most recently the Coldwell Complex trip at the 2019 Terrace Bay meeting. He was also the co-organizer and field trip leader for the 2017 ILSG Iceland Geological Field Trip, and organized and led the 2020 Hawaii Geological Field Trip, which also happened to be the last ILSG in-person event to occur prior to the onset of the global Covid-19 pandemic (let’s all hope that we can once again get together for ILSG field trips in 2022).

Anyone who has had the pleasure of knowing Allan over the years immediately becomes aware of his enthusiasm for geoscience and his deep knowledge of the rocks of the Lake Superior region. Allan’s contributions to the understanding of the geology of the Lake Superior region, as well as his unwavering support of the Institute on Lake Superior Geology, make him a worthy recipient of the 2021 Goldich Medal.

Mark Puumala, M.Sc., P.Geo.
Senior Manager, Resident Geologist Program
Ontario Geological Survey