August 2019

Book Review: A History – Placer Development Limited and Placer Dome Inc

  • By Brett Davis, Consultant Structural Geologist, Olinda Gold

Compiled by Nean Allman and Justin Baulch

Nean Allman and Justin Baulch have compiled an impressive documentation of a long-lived and constantly evolving mining and exploration company. The book details the growth of a company with a notable, dominantly gold-focused discovery record. I must admit that the volume is not what I expected when I agreed to review it. With apologies to the compilers, I was expecting a stale documentation of exploration and mining activities, with little narrative from company employees. However, I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case and I ended up reading the whole book

The things that make this book different to other mining histories I have read is the inclusion of abundant personal accounts, musings and admissions that are uncommon in documentations of the mining and exploration industry. Not only this, but an incredible amount of hours must have gone into garnering the information into meaningful timelines that show the twists and turns of the company.

Placer Dome Inc was formed in 1987 through the merger of Placer Development, Dome Mines and Campbell Red Lake Mines. The resultant entity had operating mines in Canada, USA, Mexico, Chile, Australia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Tanzania and South Africa – a global success story and a truly impressive feat.

The book details the histories of the different companies and their merger. Within this narrative, the compilers have integrated details of the founders, their successors and employees. Feature boxes have been inserted throughout the text to provide additional detail and quotes. Overall the book comprises eight chapters and two appendices. The appendices are interesting and useful, comprising details of leadership of the company through the years, sources of information and selected references.

Perhaps the most informative chapters are the three titled Timeline, each showing the separate evolutions of Placer Development Limited, Dome Mines Limited and the combined entity Placer Dome Inc. I cannot begin to think how many reports, stock market releases and back room cardboard boxes of unsorted paper were waded through to compile this information, but it must have been a daunting task.

I found the book enlightening and very readable. I was familiar with Placer Dome’s Australian operations and had the pleasure of working with some of their very good geologists when I re-entered the mining industry in 1998. Anyone with even a passing interest of how the big companies have achieved their success should read this book. It also helps that it looks good on the shelf.

The book is available directly from the authors at

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