2017 marks Sherritt’s 90th year as a responsible Canadian mining and energy company with a storied history of “doing the right thing”.
We are proud of the long and successful track record of Sherritt and its predecessor companies – from humble beginnings as a small outfit with exploration properties in northern Manitoba 90 years ago to building and operating one of the world’s largest integrated hydrometallurgical nickel/cobalt mining and refining facilities in Madagascar. Throughout our history, we have engaged in socially and environmentally responsible management practices and contributed significantly to sustainable development in all our host countries and communities – often demonstrating global leadership along the way.
See the following snapshots of our history for a brief description of just some of the highlights over the last 90 years.
Who was Eldon Brown?
It is not possible to talk about Sherritt’s beginnings without mentioning Eldon Brown. He was a Torontonian and a mining engineer, educated at the University of Toronto. When Sherritt Gordon Mines Limited was formed in 1927, Brown became the first employee.
Brown was the manager of Sherritt Gordon from 1937 to 1945, when he became president and managing director of the company. His exploration initiatives located the nickel/copper deposit at Lynn Lake, Manitoba. Brown is also credited with launching the research and development program that would eventually lead to the new ammonia leach process used at the Fort Saskatchewan refinery, once it opened in 1954.
When public road upgrades in Fort Saskatchewan required the original Sherritt sign (with the hexagonal logo) to be moved from the refinery site in the 1980s, it was relocated to the newly designated Eldon Brown Park in Fort Saskatchewan on September 11, 1986.
He received numerous awards and recognition for his lifetime of work, and Brown was inducted to the Mining Hall of Fame in 1990. He died in 1998.
Did You Know?
Multiple generations of families have worked for Sherritt, dating back to the company’s origins. At the refinery in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, in particular, you can find several long family lines and extended family ties. For instance, Jamie Swanson, a 10-year employee, has had parents, an uncle, two aunts, two grandfathers, and even a great-grandmother and great-grandfather work at the Fort! Some families – like the Walkers – even have relatives who worked at the Sherritt Gordon operations Lynn Lake and Sherridon in Manitoba in the first half of the 20th century. We believe this interesting piece of trivia is a testament to the Fort being an excellent place to work and adds to the site’s rich history, traditions and close-knit atmosphere.
Sherritt’s History Inspires Careers
“I received a Bachelor of Applied Science (Extractive Metallurgy) degree from the Western Australian School of Mines in 1988. While studying there, we learned about Sherritt Gordon Mines and its long history in base-metal hydrometallurgy from textbooks and in lectures. Our metallurgy class also visited the Kwinana Nickel Refinery in Perth and we saw Sherritt’s technology in action first hand. As a student, I took vacation work at the Kalgoorlie Nickel Smelter and it put me off pyrometallurgy for life! From then on, my interest honed in on hydrometallurgy in precious and base metals.
“My second role out of university was at the Porgera Gold Mine in Papua New Guinea, a massive new mine in the remote highlands. The plant was commissioning new autoclaves for pressure oxidation using Sherritt’s licensed technology. So I was sent with a small team of operators and engineers to learn about the technology at Sherritt’s Fort Saskatchewan site in 1991. A young Ed McConaghy (now General Manager of Technologies at Sherritt) was one of our trainers and chaperones!
“Over the years, I became a bit of an autoclave operational and commissioning expert and worked at Lihir Gold and Cawse Nickel. So when the opportunity came up to reconnect with autoclaves and Sherritt at Ambatovy, I knew it was destiny!”