Virginia Heffernan, principal of GeoPen Communications, is a Toronto-based writer who specializes in science and business. She provides research and writing services to both corporate and government entities and is a contributor to several publications.

Virginia holds a BSc in earth sciences from Queen’s University, an MSc from the University of Toronto’s School of the Environment, and an MFA in creative non-fiction from the University of King’s College.  She has been nominated for two National Magazine Awards for “Best Profile of a Company” and was a 2019 Tabbie Award (International Trade Association Business Publications) finalist. In 2021, she was shortlisted for the Penguin Random House prize for best non-fiction book proposal.

Her resulting book, Ring of Fire: High Stakes Mining in a Lowlands Wilderness was published by ECW Press in Spring, 2023. Here’s what Pulitzer=prize winning writer David Schribman had to say about the book in the Literary Review of Canada: “Embedded in this volume, as in that region, are the principal issues of our time, skillfully and invitingly rendered by a field geologist turned business and environmental writer” and “This….is nature writing with supersize skill.”


Virginia Heffernan worked internationally as a field geologist and then as a staff writer for The Northern Miner. She went on to complete an MSc in environmental science before launching GeoPen Communications. She received her MFA in creative non-fiction in 2021 and in 2023, published Ring of Fire: High Stakes Mining in a Lowlands Wilderness (ECW Press) to critical acclaim

Virginia provides research and writing services to a broad range of international clients including newspapers, magazines, book publishers, government ministries and corporations. She has published two books with The Financial Times. Her areas of expertise include mineral exploration, mining finance, green technology and renewable energy.

A reputation for accuracy and punctuality, combined with the ability to translate complex scientific and financial concepts into lively prose, has allowed Virginia’s business to flourish.

See Virginia’s Linked In profile here:


2021 University of King’s College, MFA Creative Non-Fiction
2006 Ryerson University, Advanced Magazine Writing
1996 University of Toronto MSc Geography/Environmental Science
1991 Canadian Securities Institute Securities Certificate
1986 Queen’s University BSc Geology/Geography

Relevant Volunteer Work

2011 – 2013 Past President, PWAC Toronto
2009 – 2011 President, PWAC Toronto
2006 – 2009 Treasurer, PWAC Toronto
1992 – 1993 Regional Editor, Society of Economic Geologists Newsletter
1996 Media Outreach Editor, Greenest City Project (Toronto)


Virginia presents at a PWAC Toronto panel on niche writing

With her background in exploration geology and a solid grounding in securities, Virginia can decipher the language of geoscientists and investors alike to provide compelling articles about the science and business of mineral exploration & mining.

Her postgraduate education in environmental science gives her a unique understanding of the risks and benefits of resource extraction and the science behind CSR initiatives.

Virginia provides a range of writing services to magazines, government, and corporate clients including:

  • articles
  • blog posts
  • company & personal profiles
  • press releases
  • substantive editing

Virginia is also an avid hiker, hockey player and XC skier and sometimes writes about her experiences on the trails and rinks.



Client: International Council on Metals and the Environment (ICME)

Job: Edited Case Studies on Tailings Management, a report prepared by technical experts from around the world to illustrate approaches used in managing the risks of tailings containment systems.

Client: Ontario’s Investment Office

Job: “Success” stories of companies working in Ontario, from a junior explorer in Sudbury to a mining equipment design firm that landed a contract with the Canadian Space Agency.

Client: Mergermarket US

Job: Comprehensive report on the state of global mining mergers & acquisitions in 2017

Client: Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC)

Job: Write annual profiles of 2018 PDAC award winners


    • Canadian Mining Hall of Fame
    • Financial Times Energy
    • Epiroc
    • Firmex
    • Geosoft
    • Health Canada
    • International Council on Metals and the Environment
    • Mergermarket US
    • Mining Family Matters (Adelaide)
    • Ontario Investment Office
    • Ontario Mining Association
    • PricewaterhouseCoopers
    • Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC)
    • The Nickel Institute

Books & Reports

Ring of Fire: High Stakes Mining in a Lowlands Wilderness

by Virginia Heffernan

“a signal contribution to an important public policy debate … and great fun to read into the bargain.” — Ken McGoogan, award-winning Canadian author

ViolaFrom the Ground Up: An Autobiography

by Viola MacMillan, Afterword by Virginia Heffernan

“a fascinating account of MacMillan’s exceptional life… (Heffernan’s) Afterword is a valuable addition to the autobiography because it provides both closure and context to matters that MacMillan found too painful to examine or discuss in detail,” The Northern Miner

“I found your Afterword incredible reading for its eloquence in capturing the times and character of Viola MacMillan. It’s the best synopsis on the Windfall episode we’ve found.” Paul Smith, descendent of Timmins area landowner.

FinancialTimes1Worldwide Mineral Exploration: Preparing for the next boom

by Virginia Heffernan, published by Financial Times Energy 146pp US$175
Read the Executive Summary and Table of Contents

“an excellent report,” J. David Lowell, world-renowned geologist, in Engineering & Mining Journal, November 2001

“What’s happening (in the mining industry) bears out the predictions made in this Financial Times special report,” Brendan Ryan in South Africa’s Financial Mail, August 1999

FinancialTimes2Growth Strategies for the mining industry: acquisition or exploration?

by Virginia Heffernan, published by Financial Times Energy
131pp US$175
Read the Executive Summary and Table of Contents

“a well-researched, clearly written treasure trove of information about how companies grow and why some go bust,” The Northern Miner, June 18, 2000

TailingsCase Studies on Tailings Management

International Council on Metals and the Environment, edited by Virginia Heffernan

Case Studies on Tailings Management was prepared by technical experts from around the world to illustrate approaches used in managing the risks of tailings containment systems. Virginia edited each of the 21 case studies and compiled a glossary for the publication.

Periodical Credits

Virginia’s work appears in several trade, business and consumer publications, including:

      • Canadian Consulting Engineer
      • Canadian Mining Journal
      • CIM Magazine
      • Diamonds in Canada
      • Earth Explorer
      • Engineering & Mining Journal
      • Explore
      • Financial Post
      • Investment Executive
      • Literary Review of Canada
      • Macleans
      • MinerAndina Comunicaciones (Lima)
      • Mining Markets
      • National Post
      • Nickel (Brussels)
      • Nunatsiaq News
      • The Globe and Mail
      • The Northern Miner



Writing Samples

Image result for cim magazine logo   A Staged Start-up  The journey to a successful start-up by two entrepreneurs tinkering in their garage was nominated for a National Magazine Award for Best Profile of a Company in 2019



WGM: Around the Worldin 50 Years–  A history of globetrotting geological consulting firm Watts, Griffis & McOuat nominated for Best Profile of a Company at Canada’s Kenneth R. Wilson awards.


The Bruce at 50 – An epic end-to-end adventure along the 895 km Bruce Trail to celebrate its 50th anniversary


Showing Off at Exhibition Place –  Toronto’s Exhibition Place strives for energy self-sufficiency with renewable energy options including wind, geothermal, solar and green roofing.



The Loneliness of a Marathoner’s Wife



Shawn Ryan: Striking Gold in the Yukon – A former mushroom picker acts on a hunch and finds millions of ounces of gold in the bedrock of the Yukon.



The Race to Lead a Battery-propelled Future – Several companies are vying to become leaders in the development of electric cars. 


How to Value a Mineral Property


A selection of unsolicited comments about Virginia’s work:

“This, like Eiseley’s meditations, is nature writing with supersized skill.”
– David Marks Shribman, in a review of Ring of Fire for the Literary Review of Canada

“Earth Explorer is becoming a credible voice, and the credit for that goes largely to you. I can’t thank you enough for your efforts.”
– Carmela Burns, Corporate Marketing Director, Geosoft Inc. and Editor of Earth Explorer Magazine

“I’m so happy you’re writing for CCE. Your research is sound and your writing is excellent.”
– Bronwen Parsons, editor of Canadian Consulting Engineer

“I just wanted to congratulate you on doing such a tremendous job with the financial incentives story: not an easy topic, and it looks fabulous.”
– Nadim Kara, Senior Program Director, PDAC

“That was very good work you did for us. All your reads were well-written, interesting, & informative.”
– James Walker, former managing editor of Investment Executive

“I think you did an excellent job on the property valuation assignment. It’s a tough topic to get your arms around, but you did a masterful job of weaving the various trends and developments together.” – Russell Carter, Managing Editor of Engineering & Mining Journal

“I wish to compliment you on your Black Hawk piece. It is refreshing to see attention to the details.”
– Michael Gareau, former vice-president exploration, Black Hawk Mining

“Thank you for the copies of From the Ground Up. I take pride in the fact that we have achieved something beneficial for Canada. For this, I pay tribute to ECW Press and to Virginia Heffernan.”
– Robert Evans, executor of Viola MacMillan’s estate

“Your article on Monroe Minerals was very, very nicely done.Your lead on the piece was one of the most vivid leads I’ve read in The Northern Miner for a long time. The other key point from our perspective is that you had all the facts straight, which is often the toughest thing in this kind of writing.”
– Olav Svela, former editor of The Northern Miner

“Bloody hell, this is fantastic Virginia.”

– Lainie Anderson, editor, Mining Family Matters