Brian Dalton keeps on keeping on, and in doing so has maintained his #2 spot in our ranking. He truly is the “go to” guy when it comes to mineral exploration in Atlantic Canada, based on his intimate knowledge of the land and people. In 1997, at the ripe age of 23, Brian channeled that knowledge into the creation of Altius Minerals, a resource company focused on generating projects and royalty streams in Atlantic Canada.

Brian's business plan will appeal to all those who want exposure to the excitement of resource exploration but shudder at the huge risks involved in taking projects through to production, because Altius is not interested in developing projects. At least not alone. Brian's company focuses on finding early-stage, high-potential projects and advancing those projects just enough to attract attention from a major. The major signs on as a joint venture partner, earning a stake in the project while also footing the bill. The strategy has resulted in a comprehensive portfolio of exceptional exploration projects, a long list of top-shelf joint venture partners (including BHP Billiton, Cameco, and Teck), and a very secure corporate treasury.

At present, Altius has eight active earn-in agreements and exploration alliances with various partners. For example, the Labrador Iron Ore properties are a joint venture with Kennecott Canada, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, and the South Tally Pond property, just 15 km from the Duck Pond mine, is a partnership with Paragon Minerals. Altius also boasts several royalty interests, including a 0.3% production royalty interest in the Voisey's Bay nickel-copper-cobalt project in Labrador that has generated in excess of $15 million for Altius, and is expected to continue generating revenue for years to come.

In addition, Brian understands the importance of recognizing when a project stands a much better chance of growing in value if it is let go from the Altius nest. Since 2005, Altius has been involved in the creation of three new companies, and this merchant banking activity has generated significant wealth for Altius and its shareholders.

Altius' first foray into merchant banking came in mid-2005, when Brian restructured the company's 50-50 uranium exploration joint venture with Fronteer Development Group to create a pure uranium company, called Aurora Energy Resources. The agreement effectively converted Altius' property ownership into an equity stake in the new company, along with an underlying royalty on Aurora's Labrador properties. Two years later, Altius had sold its entire Aurora stake for more than $200 million, while retaining the royalty rights.

In November 2009, Altius made its second merchant banking move, inking a deal to restructure and refinance Alderon Resources (V.ADV). Alderon earned ownership of Altius' Kamistiatusset (“Kami”) iron ore project in Labrador, and Altius took ownership of 37% of the new Alderon. With a new resource out for the Kami project, Alderon shares are now in the $2.75 to $3 range and Altius' stake is worth approximately $100 million. And in late 2010, Altius teamed up with the venerable Paul van Eeden to establish a new mineral exploration company, from which we expect great things.

Brian Dalton is the founder and indisputable leader of this highly successful company. This dedicated, intelligent leader consistently delivers the results shareholders want, and Brian has proven himself as an industry innovator who constantly stays ahead of the curve. Since it is really only those ahead of the curve who reap the big rewards in the mining world, we expect to keep tracking Brian's moves for years to come.