Neil B. Prenn

Neil B. Prenn (SME)

AIME Charles F. Rand Memorial Gold Medal* in

A mining innovator that has advanced hundreds of mining properties throughout his career

I was born on December 7, 1942 in Manhattan, New York.  I received an Engineer of Mines degree from the Colorado School of Mines in January, 1967, and went to work for Cyprus Mines Corporation at their main office in Los Angeles.  During the summers of 1970, 1971, and 1972 I was sent to Challis, Idaho, to work on the development of the Thompson Creek Project. 

After seven years in Los Angeles, I was transferred to the Cyprus Pima mine.  I held a number of different positions during my time at Cyprus Pima, going between the engineering department and the mine operating department.  It was a great time to be at the mine.  In a period of three years the mine went through two sizable expansions.  In 1978, the mine shut down due to copper oversupply which led to low copper prices.  I was chief engineer at the time and was asked to complete a feasibility study for the Thompson Creek project.  After completion of the feasibility, I was transferred to Cyprus Uranium, and worked on an open pit Uranium project near Canon City, Colorado.

During 1981 I was sent to help with the startup of the Northumberland gold project, near Kingston, Nevada.   I was there as the acting mine superintendent and was offered the position of manager of the project.  I married Camille (Cami) Roetelle on January 2, 1982 and moved to Kingson.  It was a 220-mile round trip from our trailer to the closest grocery store in Fallon, Nevada and back.  In 1984 I accepted a position of mine manager for the Zaca project for California Silver, located near Markleeville, California. We receive all the permits to mine the property in 1986, but low gold prices shut down the Project.  

I decided to give consulting a try and started Mine Development Associates in the offices of Kappes, Cassiday and Associates.  Cami joined me soon after we started to look after administrative functions for the company. The business grew slowly and soon hired a geologist (the one across the street) and an engineer.  Cami and I moved to Reno, Nevada in 1989.  The business continued to grow.  Most of the people in the company have been with the company for some time until it was sold to the principal employees in 2016.  The employees resold the company in 2019 to a South Dakota consulting firm RESPEC. 

I have retired last year, but I still show up at the office on most days.  I am working on a prefeasibility study of a gold project in Alabama, that will be completed around the end of 2021. I helped Barb Filas teach Mining 553 (Mine Design and Operational Planning) this year at the Colorado School of Mines.  My interests are collecting minerals, photography, and travel.  I hope to complete a book on the mineral quartz over the next few years.