Keevil, Norman B. (Jr.)

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Keevil, Norman B. (Jr.)

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Norman B. Keevil Jr. is a Canadian mining industry pioneer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. His father, Norman B. Keevil Sr., was a professor and geologist who was recruited to work on the Manhattan Project due to his knowledge of radioactive dating. Keevil Sr. agreed, until it became clear that being Canadian meant it would take a year to get security clearance. Rather than wait, Keevil Sr. turned down the offer and came back to Canada to teach at the University of Toronto, his wife and Norman B. Keevil, Jr. - just six months old - in tow. Norman B. Keevil Jr.'s first exposure to geology came a decade later, while spending time with his father on the waters in and around Lake Temagami, near North Bay, ON. The Keevil family had a cottage there, and canoeing along its rocky shores instilled in the family a natural curiosity for the rocks that formed the landscape. If they saw a stream, they would sample the sediments. By the time Keevil Jr. was 16, in 1954, Temagami Island would play host to the first key asset in the Keevil mining dynasty: the Temagami copper mine. While Temagami was being proven up, Norman B. Keevil Jr. was a student at Lorne Park Secondary School in Mississauga, ON. He then studied geological engineering at the University of Toronto, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in 1959. Having decided to do his PhD in geophysics the United States, he made the decision on which university based on which could help secure the funds to support his young family while completing his studies. He applied to Harvard, Berkeley, Stanford, Chicago and MIT, asking for work as a research or teaching assistant. Four of those schools offered $125/month, and Berkeley offered $150/month, which is why he chose to go to the University of California, Berkeley. Part of his doctorate at Berkeley required him to go to Merritt, BC, to work for Placer Development, the predecessor to Placer Dome, for his thesis. So with his wife and three children, the Keevils shuffled between Berkeley and Merritt for three years. After his doctorate, he was planning to teach geophysics at the University of Utah, until his mother called saying that Keevil Sr. wanted his son to return to Ontario to work for his company, Teck. Keevil Jr. returned with his family to Ontario in 1963 to serve as vice-president of exploration for Teck; he was just 25 years old. He remained in that position until 1968, when he was promoted to executive vice-president of Teck. The acquisition of the Afton deposit defined Dr. Keevil’s tenure at Teck. While Afton would later bring in Placer as a tactic to dilute away Teck’s controlling position, Teck eventually bought Placer out, and in 1978, Afton went into production and became a key Teck asset. The Afton deal not only secured for Teck a solid copper asset, it also crystallized a growing feeling in the company’s executive suite that Vancouver would be the best place for Teck’s head office to be. The office, along with the Keevil family, made the move to Vancouver in 1972, Teck taking on several coal projects in BC and going on to become second largest shipper of seaborne metallurgical coal in world. The company came out of a string of winners after building Newfoundland Zinc in 1975, Niobec Niobium in 1976, and the Afton copper-gold mine and smelter in 1978. The company also helped build one of Canada’s great gold mines: the David Bell mine at Hemlo, which was discovered in 1981. Teck bought stakes in many other mining companies of the time, often in a controlling position. In 1979, The Northern Miner named Norman B. Keevil Jr. its Mining Man of the Year, citing the impressive string of mine constructions he presided over in the 1970s (Keevil Jr. also later received their Lifetime Achievement Award). Since winning that award, Keevil Jr. went on to ensure Teck was part of some of the biggest mining projects over the next 30 years, such as Hemlo, Voisey’s Bay, and Antamina. In 1981 he became president and CEO of Teck upon his father's retirement, a position he held until 2001, when he stepped back to serve as Chairman of the Board. Through his leadership, Teck grew from a small gold mine in Northern Ontario to Canada’s largest diversified resource company with mines in Canada, the United States, Chile, and Peru. Keevil Jr. is an avid supporter of research and education in mineral resources at UBC. In 2006, Teck donated $7.5 million toward the establishment of the Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering. Keevil Jr. was inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame in January 2004 and the Canadian Business Hall of Fame in 2012. He received the Order of BC in 2012, in part due to major donations he made to the BC Children’s Hospital, the University of Alberta, and the Royal Ontario Museum. He received the Order of Canada in 2014. In 2017, he published his autobiography with McGill Queens University Press under the title “Never Rest on Your Ores: Building a Mining Company, One Stone at a Time". Keevil Jr. retired as Chairman of the Board in January 2019, when he was appointed Chairman Emeritus and Special Advisor to the Board of Teck. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of British Columbia in May 1993 and is a lifetime director of the Mining Association of Canada. Keevil Jr. was also named to the Canadian Business Hall of Fame. He has been inaugurated into the Mining Hall of Fame, named Canadian International Business Leader of the Year, and received the T. Patrick Boyle Founder’s Award from the Fraser Institute.


Toronto, ON
Lake Temagami, ON
Mississauga, ON
Berkeley, CA
Mission, BC

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RAD, July 2008 version. Canadian Council of Archives.


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Catalogued January 2023.



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