CAC Award of Distinction

Established in 2012, the CAC Award of Distinction program recognizes excellence in Canada’s coal industry. Through the award, the CAC shines a spotlight on deserving individuals who have demonstrated exceptional accomplishments in the coal industry in Canada.


To be eligible for the Award of Distinction, the recipient should make a positive contribution to Canada’s coal industry either past or present. The coal industry includes the full coal transportation chain (terminal, port, railway), industrial coal consumers (power utilities and cement manufacturing), and a myriad of suppliers of goods and services that support the industry.

Consider someone who has demonstrated leadership, innovation, commitment to safety, productivity, or excellence in human resources or management.

Nominations and Deadline

Nominating someone for the CAC Award of Distinction is easy. You don’t need to be a member of the Coal Association of Canada to nominate someone for the award or to receive the award. To submit a nomination, click below and fill out the nomination form. Nominations are due by June 28, 2024.

Submit a Nomination

The 2023 Award of Distinction was presented at the CAC Awards Reception on October 24, 2023, at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre.

Previous Recipients

Melanie L. Mackay

On October 24, 2023, Melanie L. Mackay was presented with the Award of Distinction, the Coal Association of Canada’s highest honour.


2023 Award of Distinction Video

Robert W. Bell

On September 22, 2022, Robert W. Bell was presented with the Award of Distinction, the Coal Association of Canada’s highest honour.

Mr. Bell, Chief Commercial Officer of Montem Resources, is being recognized for his remarkable dedication and leadership within the coal industry.

With over 40 years of industry experience, Mr. Bell has held senior roles with many organizations, most notably Vice President of Marketing with Luscar, CEO of Pine Valley Mining, Chief Commercial Officer of Elk Valley Coal, Chief Commercial Officer (Coal) of Teck Resources, CEO of Ram River Coal, CEO of Atrum Coal, and on the Board of Directors of Neptune Terminals.

He currently sits on the Board of Directors Boards of the Western Canadian Coal Society and the Western Canadian Shippers Coalition and has an engineering degree in mining from McGill University and an MBA from Queen’s University.

Mr. Bell has dedicated his career to developing strong relationships within the coal industry and has done a significant amount of negotiation work on commercial rail agreements to transport and export Canada’s coal to the world.

His contributions and commitment to the Canadian coal industry are something to be recognized and the Coal Association of Canada is thrilled to be able to present this award to him.

2022 Award of Distinction News Release

2022 Award of Distinction Video

Guy Gilron

Mr. Gilron has provided invaluable support to the coal mining sector in Canada over the past 15 years, providing his scientific background and analytical/strategic skills, to advocating for responsible coal mining practices, educating public stakeholders, with an aim to minimizing and mitigating environmental impacts. Throughout his career, Guy has focussed on the use and integration of science into environmental permitting, water quality guideline development, science communication, adaptive management and regulatory decision-making.

Mr. Gilron’s attributes, skills and accomplishments, include: strong advocacy for conducting sound science and careful planning during operations and closure; open sharing of knowledge through a variety of multi-stakeholder forums; and, integrating science into environmental assessments, water management and treatment. He has actively applied his experience and expertise to coal sector issues relating to ecotoxicology, water quality guideline development and application, and selenium risk assessment and management. Guy’s key accomplishments have revolved around providing strategic scientific advice to mining industry clients and associations, in support of water science, environmental assessments, and consultation processes related to monitoring and evaluation, effluent regulations and limits, and overall responsible water management.

Mr. Gilron has served as Chair, Director, Board Member and Executive Secretariat for numerous industry committees and working groups. He has co-authored numerous reports, publications and presentations which have provided trusted information, novel perspectives, with the ultimate goal of stakeholder consensus. Finally, Guy has been successful in developing and leading high-performance teams of environmental professionals.

Mr. Gilron’s contributions to the Canadian coal industry, in particular, applying science to inform regulations and decision-making, is recognized by the Coal Association of Canada. We are pleased to be able to present this award to him.

2020 / 2021 Award of Distinction Video

Mark Bartkoski

Mr. Bartkoski began his multi-faceted career in mining nearly 40 years ago, working on projects around the globe and gaining valuable insights from the thousands of people he has met along the way. The last 25 years focused primarily on company rebuilds, as well as underground and surface mining greenfield operations, which is how he found his way into the Canadian coal space.

Using his extensive operational experience, combined with countless lessons learned throughout his career, Mr. Bartkoski and his team at Conuma Coal Resources Ltd successfully re-opened three steelmaking coal mines in northeastern BC . The Brule, Willow and Wolverine mines now employ over 900 people directly and have been a major economic driver to the surrounding communities of Tumbler Ridge and Chetwynd.

Mr. Bartkoski also held the position of Chair of the Board of Directors of the Coal Association of Canada from November, 2017 to March, 2019. His fresh perspectives and decades of experience helped increase membership and awareness of the Association during his term, including the launch of the CAC Student Internship/Scholarship program.

Mr. Bartkoski’s contributions to the Canadian coal industry, local communities and commitment to bring our product to market are something to be recognized and the Coal Association of Canada is thrilled to be able to present this award to him.

2019 Award of Distinction News Release

2019 Award of Distinction Video

Dennis Blake

Mr. Blake, Senior Manager of Ridley Terminals, is being recognized for his dedication, knowledge and advancement of the coal industry in Canada. From the coalmine to the end customer, Mr. Blake is known as man with integrity and appreciation for the entire coal chain.

Throughout his 35-year career with Ridley Terminals, Mr. Blake has developed a deep and broad understanding of the Canadian coal sector. He worked at Ridley Terminals when the first lump of coal was moved off the train and into the cargo vessel in 1984 and moved his way into senior management. He has been a part of and responsible for many milestones and accomplishments including multimillion dollar facility upgrades, efficiency improvements and helping Ridley reach their impressive achievement of shipping 200 million tonnes of coal, which will be accomplished this year.

Mr. Blake’s contributions to the coal chain and helping improve how Canada is able to get our valuable resource to market are something to be recognized and the Coal Association of Canada is thrilled to be able to present this award to him.

2018 Award of Distinction News Release

2018 Award of Distinction Video

Ross Leeder

Dr. Leeder is being recognized for his research and advocacy contributing to the coal industry. Throughout his career, Dr. Leeder has worked to develop better International Standards for Canadian coals. In his work with CANMET, Dr. Leeder’s research established the value of Canadian coal, which improved international trade, and contributed to the growth and development of Canada’s steelmaking coal trade.

He has been a member of the Canadian Carbonization Research Association (CCRA) for over 40 years and has served as Chairman of their Technical Committee and their Board of Directors. He has authored numerous reports, publications and presentations over his career, always emphasizing the technical merits of Canadian coals. Dr. Leeder is highly regarded around the world for his expertise in all technical aspects of coal including exploration, mining, processing, transportation, storage, and utilization.

He worked with many coal mining companies in western Canada on all aspects of mining, processing and beneficiation technologies, but specifically to improve technologies to upgrade Canadian coals. Over the past 30 years, Dr. Leeder has worked for several coal companies, always championing Canadian coals in the International market place.

2017 Award of Distinction News Release

2017 Award of Distinction Video

Madeleina Suska

On June 10, 2016, Madeleina Suska will be receiving the Award of Distinction, the Coal Association of Canada’s highest honour.

Madeleina Suska graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the University of London. Starting in the oil and gas industry as a sedimentary geologist with many successful discoveries and predictions, Madeleine moved on to field exploration and mapping, later completing her Master of Science in Geology at the University of Alberta.

Suska took months-long horseback expeditions into the unmapped and unexplored lands of northeastern British Columbia and the eastern slopes of Alberta. She discovered and mapped major coal fields in BC and Alberta. These discoveries led to decades of further exploration and development, and most notably mining of the Northeast British Columbia Coal Block, including the Tumbler Ridge area.

2016 Award of Distinction News Release

2016 Award of Distinction Video

David Fawcett

On September 17, 2015, David Fawcett received the Award of Distinction, the Coal Association of Canada’s highest honour.

This year’s Award of Distinction recipient, David Fawcett, is a graduate of the University of Alberta’s School of Mining Engineering and has worked in the Canadian coal industry for 40 years. During his career, Mr. Fawcett held a broad range of responsibilities, from early stage geology and exploration, regulatory and permitting, to operations, management and executive positions for several major, intermediate and start-up companies. In the past 20 years, Mr. Fawcett has played a key role in the coal industry in northeast British Columbia

2015 Award of Distinction News Release

2015 Award of Distinction Video

Boyd Payne

On September 11, 2014, Boyd Payne received the Award of Distinction, the Coal Association of Canada’s highest honour.

Mr. Payne started his career in the coal business in 1974 in a technical capacity and eventually transitioned into operations, business development and marketing. He worked in a variety of leadership roles in Canada and abroad, including Vice President Marketing with Fording Coal, President and CEO of Elk Valley Coal Partnership, President, Fording Canadian Coal Trust, President and CEO of Teck Coal Limited and Senior Vice President, Coal with Teck Cominco Limited. He was also Vice President Marketing, steelmaking Coal for BHP Billiton, based in Singapore.

My. Payne retired from full-time employment in 2011. Never one to sit tight for too long, he is now the President of Black Eagle Mining, a late stage coal exploration company based in Vancouver. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Dingo, an Australian/U.S. based company dedicated to helping the mining industry implement predictive maintenance programs that drive increased operational efficiency.

2014 Award of Distinction News Release

Robert H. Stan

Robert H. Stan, the recipient of the 2013 CAC Award of Distinction, is a leader in the coal industry.

Throughout his 30 year career in the Canadian coal industry, Bob Stan has demonstrated a strong passion and commitment to the Canadian coal industry. He is most known as the Founder, President and CEO of Grande Cache Coal, however for those in the coal industry, he’s a people-focused executive with an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the coal business. Over the years, Mr. Stan worked in a variety of marketing and managerial positions with several coal companies, including Fording Coal, Teck Resources, Weststar Mining, and Smoky River Coal Limited.

Mr. Stan is a long standing champion of coal and the benefits it brings to our economy and society, so it’s fitting he is the recipient of the very first Award of Distinction.

2013 Award of Distinction News Release

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