Pioneer Square is now home to a new statue, made and shown in tribute to an icon of northern mining.
The City of Flin Flon and Callinex Mines unveiled a new statue at the square showing a likeness of northern exploration mastermind Mike Muzylowski Sept. 9. The statue, a bronze bust showing Muzylowski, his trademark glasses and a suit and tie, was funded mainly by Callinex, a company Muzylowski is the former chairman of, having retired in 2019.
A geologist by trade with a reputation of finding mines, Muzylowski is perhaps best known as the founder of the Trout Lake mine, one of the Flin Flon region’s longest-running and most profitable mine projects.
He started his journey through the business by accident - the son of a farmer from southern Manitoba, he signed up for a geology course at the Univ. of Manitoba without knowing was geology was. He soon became enthralled with the science, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in the discipline in 1955 and joining up with Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting (HBM&S).
Over the decades since, Muzylowski was at least partially responsible for discovering and developing no fewer than 16 mines throughout North America, including 13 in Manitoba.
“That accounts for nearly 15 per cent of all the mine’s found in the province’s history, which dates back a very long time,” said Max Porterfield, the president, director and chief executive officer of Callinex, who presented Muzylowski with the statue.
With HBM&S, Muzylowski worked as the company’s senior project geologist, chief geophysicist and assistant superintendent of exploration and development. Within the industry, Muzylowski earned the nickname of “Mr. Mine Finder” - a nickname he borrowed for an autobiography he penned with writer Jack Lee in 2017.
“It’s been a lot of fun for me. I just enjoy finding mines - good mines,” he said at the ceremony. Muzylowski, now in his late 80s, was present at the unveiling.
“I will try to keep it up, but this old body is getting a little tired and things aren’t doing what they should be doing. I use my cell phone a lot more.”
Muzylowski commissioned airborne geophysical surveys over Trout Lake in the 1970s that led to the discovery of a rich copper-zinc deposit, which in turn led to the Trout Lake mine. Over its 30 years of operation, multiple billions of dollars worth of ore was pulled out of the ground at Trout Lake.
Muzylowski’s expertise also led to discoveries at Puffy Lake and Tartan Lake that led to mines there and, as president of Callinan Mines in the 2010s, he had royalty and net profit interests in Hudbay’s flagship 777 mine. In his later years in the business, Muzylowski stepped away from hands-on exploration and sat as a mamber of several companies’ boards, including Callinex. He was involved in community projects in the Flin Flon area, including helping push for the creation of Pioneer Square itself, where the statue of him now sits.
Muzylowski was named to the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame in 2011.
“My wife said I should retire when I got to 65. I said, ‘I don’t have a job, but I have a great hobby,’” he joked.
A plaque detailing Muzylowski’s life story and career accomplishments will be added to the statue at a later date.