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Canadian mining industry says goodbye to 'turnaround man' Bill James

The man credited with making mining company Falconbridge Ltd. a success in the 1980s has passed away. William "Bill" James died on September 4, at the age of 89.

The former head of Falconbridge passed away at the age of 89

William "Bill" James, the former head of Falconbridge Ltd., passed away in September at the age of 89. (iStock)

The man credited with making mining company Falconbridge Ltd. a success in the 1980s has passed away.

William "Bill" James died on September 4, at the age of 89.

James took the helm of Falconbridge at a time when the company was losing millions of dollars each week due to flagging metal prices.

James was known in the Canadian mining industry as a "turnaround man." (Canadian Mining Hall of Fame)

He cut jobs and corporate spending, eventually making the company an attractive target for a takeover for Noranda.

Ed Thompson, a board member with the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame, remembers working with James for almost 50 years.

"He was a very forthright, honest man," Thompson recalled.

"He was partly deaf, so he spoke with a booming voice. You could hear him anywhere in the room and had a great sense of humour, so it was usually fun to be around Bill."

Although James' methods at Falconbridge weren't always popular, Thompson says he was a hardworking man.

"You'd call the office maybe 10 o'clock at night and he's still be there. You'd get him and have a conversation and it would be half business and half jokes. He was a very interesting man."

James' reputation as a "turnaround man" led him to work for Denison Mines, which was facing its own hardships in the 1990s. He later left for a position at Inmet Mining.

James was inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame in 2002.

"He was prime candidate, of course," Thompson, who was also inducted into the hall of fame in 2018, said. 

"He'd had a very illustrious career and was one of the outstanding figures in Canadian Mining." 

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