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The 2009 William Lawrence Saunders Gold Medal Award  

Awarded To: Patrick J. Ryan

Dr. Patrick J. Ryan was born on Venterspost Gold Mine in South Africa in 1937. He started his mining career as a Learner Official with Gold Fields, and was subsequently awarded a Chamber of Mines scholarship to study Mining Geology at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1957.

From 1961 to 1969, Pat worked for Gold Fields, Ango American and the Hochschild group in various positions involving production, mining geology and exploration. In 1967, he was awarded a PhD by the University of the Witwatersrand.

In 1970, Pat joined Phelps Dodge Corporation as exploration manager in charge of their Southern African operations. He played a key role in the discovery, development and construction of the Black Mountain copper, lead, zinc, and silver mine and the Witkop fluorspar mine in South Africa.

In 1984, Phelps Dodge promoted him to Senior Vice President and he and his family relocated to Phoenix, Arizona. He was responsible for Phelps Dodge’s overseas mining interests, Western Nuclear, the Oil, Gas and Coal Division and the worldwide exploration and development programs. He also played a major role in the acquisition of key mineral rights in the Bisbee, Arizona area and the subsequent implementation of a diamond-drilling program resulted in the discovery of the Cochise Copper Deposit. It was at this time that the exploration team under Pat’s leadership discovered the world class Candelaria Copper deposit in Chile.

In 1989, he was promoted to Executive Vice President of Phelps Dodge Mining Company and subsequently was made responsible for the corporation’s worldwide mining, smelting, exploration and development activities. This included the construction and start-up of the Candelaria project in Chile. The mine came into production four months ahead of schedule and within the budget of $570 million. He also played a leadership role in the following important projects:

• Conversion of the Tyrone mine from conventional milling and floatation to mine-for-leaching SXEW

• Extensive exploration programs around Chino, Tyrone and Morenci which substantially increased reserves and the lives of these operations

• Acquisition of the San Juan copper deposit in the Safford district

• Large capital projects at Chino and Morenci, designed to increase copper production and cut costs

Following his retirement from Phelps Dodge in 1995, Pat together with his two Canadian partners formed Frontera Copper Corporation in order to acquire the Piedras Verdes copper project in Mexico. This project was successfully financed constructed and brought into production within one year in October of 2006 at a total capital cost of $100 million.

Pat and his wife Dorothy have been married for 46 years and live in Phoenix, Arizona. They have five children and two grandchildren.

About The William Lawrence Saunders Gold Medal Award:

The William Lawrence Saunders Gold Medal, established in 1927, and funded by AIME, recognizes distinguished achievement in mining other than coal.


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