My first exposure to geology (and gold) began before I was born when my fifth generation back grandfather came around the horn to California to participate in the 1849 gold rush. My personal exposure to geologic forces began in the mid-1960s to mid-1970s with active seismic events in Palm Springs and the Bay Area. Those experiences contributed to my decision to pursue an undergraduate degree in economic geology from California State University, Chico in 1980. I was able to catch the tail end of the molybdenum boom and the beginning of the gold boom by working for Gulf Mineral Resources in Montana (Marysville) and Nevada (Battle Mountain). My position at Gulf lasted for a year and then I started graduate school at the University of Idaho, Moscow. I earned two Masters Degrees: one in Geology; and the other in Resource Management, where I was a Fellow in the Institute for Resource Management (sponsored by Robert Redford, the actor). The Resource Management degree was a multidisciplinary degree and my thesis was on the development of the United States Mining Law from 1803 to the present.
Following my graduate education I obtained a position in 1986 with Kennecott in Reno, where I was involved in gold exploration primarily in western Nevada, California, and Oregon. While with Kennecott, I was involved with some of the early work at the Sandman Project. It was during this time that I started attending GSN meetings. My earliest memory is of Roger Steininger and Bob Cuffney as President and Vice President (if I recall correctly, this was also my first experience with “Land Sharks”).
Early in 1988, I was offered a six-month position with Kennecott in their Sydney, Australia, office and worked in Papua New Guinea where most of my time was spent on the island of Lihir conducting exploration in the caldera, peripheral to the main ore body. I also was involved with exploration at Simberi. My time on Lihir was cut a little short with a wicked case of malaria and I spent about a week with the nuns in their hospital in Rabaul. With the eruption in 1994, the hospital and the town of Rabaul were abandoned. From Rabaul I spent some time in the Sydney office and at the Olympic Dam project in South Australia before returning to the States. I remained with Kennecott through the summer of 1988 and then I changed careers. In October of 1988, I was hired by Environmental Management Associates, a southern California based firm primarily involved with the geothermal industry, to develop a mining and exploration permitting practice for their Reno office. I continued in this position with EMA until 1991 when my wife was transferred to Houston with Shell. EMA wanted to keep me as an employee, so I ended up opening an office for them in Houston, where I worked primarily with the banking and coal industry in Texas. This worked well until late 1993, when due to economic conditions in southern California, poor performance of the Reno office, and a change in my marital status, I moved back to Reno to operate the office for EMA.
During the summer of 1994 (I have Debbie Struhsacker to thank for suggesting my name to Opal Adams) I served as treasurer of GSN, which I did for two years. During that time I took the books from a paper ledger system to an accounting software program. In addition, the 1995 Symposium was in full swing and eight months before the meeting the symposium Treasurer quit. So I also took over those treasurer duties. After being Treasurer of GSN for two years I served a year as Vice President and then as President. After that I continued on with GSN serving as the Treasurer for the 2000 Symposium. The year 2000 was a big year for my career. In August, after 12 years with EMA I left that firm. My, wife, Opal (we married in 1998) and I opened our own environmental consulting firm (Enviroscientists, Inc.), which has successfully grown from three employees to 18. I took a break from GSN from 2001 to 2005; however, in April of 2005 I was back working with a small group of past officers on the development of a GSN Board of Directors. This required a major revision of the GSN Constitution, which we shepherded through the review and approval process with the Executive Committee and the membership. I was then elected, along with Dave Shaddrick, to the first three-year term as a member of the board and was voted in by the Board as the first Chairman of GSN, a position that I held for three years. Also during that time I helped rewrite the GSN by-laws and the constitutions and by-laws for the three GSN chapters. In 2008, my three-year term on the Board ended and I chose not to run again.
Currently, I help run our business, which has offices in Reno, and Elko, and a field office in Boise, Idaho, I am a Commissioner with the Nevada Commission on Mineral Resources, and I serve on the executive committee of the Northwest Mining Association and will hold the office of President in 2012.
The past 30 plus years in the minerals industry, geology, and particularly with the GSN have been very rewarding and the involvement with GSN has been great fun (though there have been days). We all should be thankful for what GSN has done, what it will continue to do, and for what it provides to this part of the minerals industry.
John Winton Erwin*
Erin L. Hart
Greg T. Hill
Joseph Kizis, Jr
Brooke J Miller
Justin and Ajeet Milliard
Mia (Cowgill) O'Neal
Shea Clark Smith
Roger C Steininger