It was no lucky shot that landed Rob McLeod on our list.

Mining is in his blood – his father was an underground miner, and among his cousins are industry heavyweights Catherine McLeod-Seltzer and Bruce McLeod – and if he learned anything around the family table, it was that the best place to find gold is where it's already been found.

That's what led him to the Lucky Shot mine, just 30 miles from Anchorage, Alaska, a rich strike that produced over a quarter-million ounces during the 1920s and '30s, before it was abandoned. Rob re-started it, under the banner of Full Metal Minerals, in late 2006. Unafraid of hard work, living in the bush, or investing in his own deals, Rob had every reason to expect great things from FMM.

But in 2008, like so many others, he ran into the buzzsaw. Unlike so many others, he doesn't blame the market, government, or Wall Street banks. He owns up to his missteps. As he put it, “Full Metal Minerals was a big success with multiple discoveries in Alaska for many years, before we committed the cardinal sin for exploration companies: we attempted to put our Lucky Shot Gold project into limited production. Our financing collapsed during the fall 2008 meltdown, and the company barely survived the massive dilution required to stay solvent.”

Perseverance and the ability to profit from mistakes are essential traits in a business as tricky as mining, as is the insight to recognize your strengths. “I've learned from this,” he says, “I will now focus my attention on doing what I do best… make discoveries.” When he adds that he and his “excellent team of young geologists will turn around Full Metal Minerals in the coming year,” we believe him.

And it's not as if FMM is the only company on his resume. Even as he was struggling to keep it afloat, he was also working as a director of Underworld Resources, a company focused on developing gold resources in Canada's Yukon Territory, from scratch. That effort paid off big time in March of 2010, when he sold UW to Kinross Gold Corp. (T.K, NYSE.KGC) for C$139.2 million, delivering as much as a 1500% gain to his shareholders.

With over 12 years experience in mining and exploration, Rob has worked for both major and junior mining companies. He approaches each project carefully, with a multi-tier exploration strategy, and remains focused on prospecting, as well as advancing early- and mid-stage projects towards feasibility.

We expect more big things from him very soon.