Charles E. Fipke
|Charles E. Fipke|
|Residence||Kelowna, British Columbia|
|Education||University of British Columbia (BSc.)|
|Occupation||Scientist and entrepreneur|
|Known for||Discovered Ekati Diamond Mine|
Charles Edgar (Chuck) Fipke (born 1946) is a Canadian geologist and prospector who discovered the existence of diamonds around Lac de Gras in Canada's Northwest Territories. He is now a multimillionaire involved in geological explorations around the world.
Fipke was born in Edmonton, Alberta. Growing up, he was sometimes assumed to be stupid because of his "frantic stop-start mind." His nicknames include Captain Chaos and Stumpy. He occasionally stammers and is known for his use of the word "hey" at the end of sentences.
In 1970, he graduated from University of British Columbia (UBC) with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree in Geology. Fipke received an honorary doctorate from Okanagan University College in 1998.
In 2006, Fipke donated C$6 million to UBC to support the creation of the Charles Fipke Centre for Innovative Research. In 2012, the Fipke Laboratory for Trace Element Research (FiLTER) opened, with Fipke funding the purchase of imaging equipment including a scanning electron microscope. "To graduate excellent scientists, a university needs to have the best technology available," said Fipke. "My goal is to help UBC's Okanagan campus reach the leading edges of science, in order to recruit the top students and faculty from around the world." Fipke has also donated substantially to Alzheimer's research at UBC.
Fipke was divorced by his wife Marlene in 2000, who had been with him since he began searching for the diamonds. At the time, the divorce settlement was the largest in Canadian history, with her portion of the assets estimated to be approximately C$123.1 million.
Upon graduation, Fipke worked for companies such as Kennecott Copper and Cominco, performing mineral explorations in locations such as Papua New Guinea, South Africa and Brazil. He became an expert in the study of indicator minerals to identify potential strikes, the key to his later success. "Everyone now knows that G-10 garnets with low calcium might lead you to diamonds, hey," he said in 2011. "But how do you distinguish between a Group 1 eclogitic garnet that grew with a diamond and a Group 2 eclogitic garnet that didn't? They look the same." Fipke uses custom software to help determine the difference. "No one else out there can distinguish between these similar tiny particles of minerals that grow with a diamond and ones that don't."
In 1977, Fipke founded CF Mineral Research, a heavy mineral and diamond exploration research laboratory. In 1983, he founded Dia Met Minerals, which became listed on the Vancouver Stock Exchange in 1984. Dia Met was sold to BHP Billiton in 2001.
In 1988, Fipke and partner Stu Blusson began a systematic search for diamonds in the Northwest Territories, leading to the discovery of the first diamond pipe in North America in November 1991 near Lac de Gras. The Ekati Diamond Mine is now located there. Fipke maintained a 10% interest in Ekati until 2014, when he sold his share to Dominion Diamond Corp. for US$67 million. "I'm not really a miner," he said. "I'm an exploration geologist. This sale gives me more ability to do exploration."
Fipke is currently involved in multiple greenfield projects, involving searches for diamonds in Ontario with Metalex Ventures, for gold in the Yukon, Nevada and Yemen with Cantex Mine Development and for uranium along the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border with Northern Uranium.
- Perfect Soul, winner of the 2003 Shadwell Turf Mile
- Tale of Ekati, named for his diamond mine, winner of the Grade I Wood Memorial and Cigar Mile in 2008
- Not Bourbon, winner of the 2008 Queen's Plate
- Lemons Forever, winner of the 2006 Kentucky Oaks at odds of 47-1
- Unbridled Forever and Forever Unbridled, multiple stakes winning daughters of Lemons Forever
- Perfect Shirl, winner of the 2011 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf
- Jersey Town, winner of the 2012 Cigar Mile
- Golden Soul, a longshot in the 2013 Kentucky Derby, who finished second and had a payout more than three times higher than the winner Orb (38.60 to place vs. 12.80 to win)
- Tale of Verve, second to American Pharoah in the 2015 Preakness Stakes at odds of 28-1
Fipke owns two farms in Kentucky where he houses roughly 75 broodmares. He breeds mainly to Tale of Ekati, Perfect Soul and Jersey Town.
Honors and Awards
Fipke has been received multiple honors, including:
- The Northern Miner's Mining Man of the Year (1992)
- PDAC's Prospector of the Year (1992)
- H.H. “Spud” Huestis Award for prospecting and mineral exploration (1997)
- Daniel C. Jackling Award for contributions to technical progress in mining, geology, and geophysics (2004)
- Robert M. Dreyer Award for outstanding achievement in applied economic geology (2005)
He was inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame in 2013.
- Hoffman, Carl. "How a Rogue Geologist Discovered a Diamond Trove in the Canadian Arctic". WIRED. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
- Nicolaou, Anna. "Fipke still looking for new diamond finds". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
- Mortenson, Bud (27 September 2006). "Charles E. Fipke Foundation gives $6 Million to establish new research centre at UBC Okanagan". UBC's Okanagan News. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
- Wellborn, Patty (26 October 2012). "UBC officially opens laboratory for trace element analysis and research". UBC's Okanagan News. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
- Doug Ashbury (2000-02-28). "Diamond divorce". Northern News Services. Retrieved 2008-12-12.
As a result of a divorce settlement, Mrs. Fipke, wife of geologist Chuck Fipke, will control about 21 per cent of Kelowna-based Dia Met Minerals. As of Thursday morning, the stake was worth $123.1 million.
- "The Canadian Mining Hall of Fame". mininghalloffame.ca. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
- Koven, Peter. "Life after Ekati: Legendary Canadian geologist Chuck Fipke gears up for more exploration". Financial Post. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
- "DIAMET MINERALS LTD.". Worldwide Company Profile. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
- "The Story of Canadian Arctic™ Diamonds > ENGINEERING.com". www.engineering.com. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
- "Bio of Charles Fipke" (PDF). Equibase. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
- "Stakes Winners for Charles Fipke". Equibase. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-05-28. Retrieved 2013-05-04.
- Danielson, Vivian (31 December 2008). "The Northern Miner's 1992 "Mining Man of the Year" Charles Fipke". Republic of Mining. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
- "1992 PDAC Prospector of the Year Award Winner – Charles E. Fipke". Republic of Mining. 7 December 2008. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
- "Awards - Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia" (PDF). amebc.ca. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
- "Daniel C. Jackling Award". Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
- "Rober M. Dreyer Award". Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
- Reichs, Kathy (2012). Bones are forever : a novel (1st Scribner hardcover ed.). New York: Scribner. p. 286. ISBN 978-1-4391-0243-5.
- Kevin Krajick, Barren Lands: An Epic Search for Diamonds in the North American Arctic. 2001, Freeman/Henry Holt, ISBN 0-7167-4026-5. Review at the Wayback Machine (archived February 12, 2002) at Smithsonian Magazine
- Kathy Reichs, Bones are Forever 2012, Scribner, ISBN 978-1-4391-0243-5.
- Vernon Frolick, "Fire Into Ice: Charles Fipke and The Great Diamond Hunt" 2000, Raincoast Books, ISBN 1551923343, and ISBN 9781551923345.
- LD Cross, "Treasure Under the Tundra: Canada’s Arctic Diamonds" 2011, Heritage House Publishing Co, ISBN 1926936108, and ISBN 9781926936109.