On February 22 at the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME) annual conference awards banquet, former Newmont employee Leonard “Len” Harris was honored with the Hoover Medal for his humanitarian work.
Established in 1929, the Hoover Medal commemorates the civic and humanitarian achievements of engineers, and is awarded to those whose professional achievements and personal endeavors have advanced the wellbeing of humankind.
A true Newmont legend, Len joined the Company in 1974 as a research metallurgist and worked his way up to serve as Vice President of Metallurgical Operations. In this position, Len worked on projects around the world, including helping metallurgists optimize the gold mills and find solutions to the treatment of refractory gold ores in Carlin, Nevada.
Len also played a key role in the support of exploration opportunities, and was instrumental in pushing for the development of the gold discovery at Yanacocha. When the decision was made in July of 1992 to move forward with the development and operation of Yanacocha with two partners, Len’s technical expertise and previous work experience with Cerro de Pasco in Peru made him the logical choice for the role of general manager of the newly formed Minera Yanacocha.
At the time, Peru was in the midst of a civil war, and Len was worried about conditions in the communities close to the mine. On his own initiative, he hired two doctors to conduct a survey of the villages – they found that many of the children were suffering from malnutrition. Under Len’s direction, and with the support of his wife, Rosa Harris – a native Peruvian who Len had met during his time with Cerro de Pasco – a community assistance program was founded to help the operation better understand the needs of the communities close to the mine. In conjunction with government, non-governmental organizations, the community and the mine, Len helped to facilitate a number of development programs that benefit people in Peru to this day.
Len retired from Newmont in mid-1995 but continued to serve on numerous small mining company boards, helping with community assistance program design and strategy. Len and Rosa continue to visit family in Peru and participate in the community programs they started there. In 2017, Len was elected to the National Mining Hall of Fame, a memorial for men and women who achieved lasting greatness in the mining and natural resource environment. Newmont had the privilege of employing one of greatest visionaries in mining and Len’s contributions to our business will not be forgotten.
Learn more about Len’s exceptional career and hear from Newmont employees about the impact of his work in this video from SME.