James was born on December 24, 1968, in Livingstone, Zambia and was educated at Mpelembe Secondary School in Kitwe. He received his BSc in Geology from the Royal School of Mines (Imperial College, London) in the early 1990's under a ZCCM scholarship. He always laughed that geology was chosen for him by the scholarship board and he turned up in London with no idea what it was about.
James's early career was spent working in the heart of the Zambian Copperbelt at Nchanga open pit for ZCCM during the time of state ownership.
In July 1997, James joined Cyprus Amax Zambia Corporation as Geologist and was seconded to Cyprus Amax Kansanshi Plc to work on a major drilling and feasibility evaluation programme at Kansanshi in the Solwezi District. It was in this period as a member of a talented international team that James developed his extremely strong geological observation and interpretation skills. He clearly began to appreciate the importance of high quality geology in understanding these complexly deformed and sometimes enigmatic copper deposits.
Over the next 20 years James remained dedicated to the growth and understanding of this wonderful ore system seeing it develop from a modest early resource to become the largest Copper Mine in Africa with an endowment of over 20Mt contained Cu.
Following the purchase of Cyprus Amax by Phelps Dodge in 1999, James worked for Avmin Exploration based out of Kitwe. His important contribution here was his work delineating the previously known Mwambashi B deposit on the west limb on the Chambishi Basin. Mwambashi B became an early focus of study during the AMIRA research program due to its discrete size and clear relationships between basement architecture and copper mineralization.
James used his strong training and understanding on the Copperbelt deposits to forge ahead with his ambition to make new discoveries. He joined First Quantum Minerals as Senior Exploration Geologist in June 2003 and led the exploration of the extensive Mwinilunga land position in partnership with BHP. Following the discovery of the Kashime deposit in 2004, he led the successful resource development program. James went on to lead First Quantum's exploration in Zambia and was responsible for the discovery of the South East Dome a few kilometers from Kansanshi. It was James's personal intuition and regard for detail that led to the discovery of the South East Dome in an area passed over by several other prior explorers.
Throughout his career, James was dedicated to the training, mentoring, and motivation of a large number of young Zambian and expatriate geologists. His firm but nurturing nature and dedication to quality of observation combined with a remarkable ability to see 'the big picture' enabled James to inspire whole generation of young (and some old!) geologists to develop their skills and interpretive abilities. James was known for seizing the moment and it was common for him to print a Geological Section even at the end of a working day – for group discussion, with the notion "do not leave till tomorrow, what you can do today". Due to this, he often likened his team to a Zambian Football team called "The Mighty Mufulira Wanderers", a team known for seizing a win in the dying moments of a football match. As such he would always say "We are Mighty", a phrase that is echoed by his team even today.
James maintained a strong involvement with universities and economic geology researchers from all over the world that were contributing to the geological understanding of Zambia and its great copper deposits. This involved many mine studies, field excursions, and extensive traverses to unravel the structure of lesser-known parts of the Copperbelt.
The Central African Copperbelt has lost one of its greatest champions and personalities, far too early. But James's ambition to provide the highest quality of education for young geologists and to see the Zambian Copperbelt 'properly mapped' shall continue in his name through this award.
James is survived by his wife, Florence, and their children, Michael and Annette.