Sponsored Content

Powering Cancer Research

Vancouver mining executive Neil Burns explores for a ‘silver bullet’ for cancer

Everyone has a connection to cancer, whether it’s personal or through a loved one. This shared experience brings people together and prompted Neil Burns—whose career as an exploration and mining geologist has taken him all over the globe—to take action right here at home.

In 2009, Burns was a year into his tenure at Wheaton Precious Metals, where he’s currently Vice President of Technical Services. “Over small talk one Monday morning with a fellow cyclist, I asked, ‘How was your weekend?’ He said, ‘Great, I biked to Seattle in a cancer fundraising event.’”

Burns brought the idea of participating in the event to Wheaton’s President & CEO, Randy Smallwood, and together they formed the Silver Bullets. The team of staff, family and friends have participated every year since in the two-day, 200-km ride, which now traverses from Cloverdale to Hope as the Tour de Cure, presented by Wheaton Precious Metals.

While a true ‘silver bullet’ has yet to be discovered for cancer, the team has raised more than $2 million for the BC Cancer Foundation to improve outcomes for the 30,000 British Columbians diagnosed each year.

Burns’ approach to fundraising is to cast a wide net when soliciting donations—one that reaches all the way back to his childhood in Nova Scotia. One of the first to respond after he sends his annual fundraising email is his former Scouts leader on the East Coast.

“He’s consistently the first to give, likely motivated by the fact that cancer impacts us all,” says Burns, whose own dad recently underwent treatment for prostate cancer and had a kidney removed.

In 2014, Wheaton signed on as presenting sponsor of the Tour de Cure. And Burns, grateful to be at a company with a “from-the-top-down” culture of giving back, personally invested in the partnership with the Foundation when he joined the board as a director in 2019.

He further connected the mining industry with the cancer community by founding the inaugural Exploring for a Cure event at the 2023 Roundup Conference, hosted by the Association for Mineral Exploration (AME) in Vancouver. Featuring a BC Cancer researcher, a patient and a keynote address from Canada’s most infamous space explorer Colonel Chris Hadfield, the event raised more than $160,000 for the BC Cancer Foundation.

“Philanthropy is the heartbeat of health care,” says Burns. “As business leaders we can help infuse hope, compassion and resources into BC Cancer to ensure life-saving research, treatment and technology is available to everyone who relies on it—including our own colleagues, communities and families.”

Learn more about the impact leaders in the community like Neil Burns and Wheaton Precious Metals are making at

Connect | Facebook | X | Instagram | LinkedIn

Created by BCBusiness in partnership with BC Cancer