Me and Dr. Tommy B. Thompson (my principal Ph.D. advisor) at graduation, 2003

Me and Dave Wilbur in my first solo Showroom at Tucson, 2014

My name is Marcus Johnston, and Apex Fine Minerals is a natural outcome of my lifelong fascination regarding minerals and earth sciences. I’ve been obsessed with minerals as long as I can remember, owing partly to extensive travel related to my Dad’s career, and exposure to impressive specimens while living in places like Arizona and Germany in the 1970s, and Kansas, Virginia, and California in the 1980s. My family recognized this passion early, and fueled the fire by stopping at local rock shops wherever we traveled, finding occasional spots for us to self-collect, and growing my personal library with geology, mineralogy, and collecting books. By my teenage years, I could fill a few cases with my collection. To this day, my (since expanded) family remains my ultimate support and principal inspiration.

Many specimens came from my Late Grandfather, Dr. George Campbell, who spent much of his career as a chemist/metallurgist for US Borax’s mine in Boron, California. Here, he was close friends and occasional collecting partners with Jim Minette, and I was once able to collect in one of the pits with my Grandfather and Jim. Afterwards, we spent the afternoon in the collection room at the back of Jim’s house, and Jim sent me home with a few gift thumbnail specimens. Later that year, for Christmas 1982, my Grandparents sent me a large gift box. When Christmas morning finally came, I opened the box and carefully unwrapped the numerous parcels stashed inside. Each one was a mineral specimen Jim had self-collected and hand-labeled, and my career-fate was sealed.

Sampling gold-bearing quartz veins, 2011

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Over the years, I have walked across hundreds of outcrops and exposures with real potential to produce quality mineral specimens. The companies I worked for were mostly interested in gold and silver, but I always made quick mental notes of these  "other" spots for future concern. In 2014, the declining investor appetite for exploration had squeezed the industry nearly to death, and I made the easy decision to become a Consultant so I could spend more time with my growing family and focus on developing Apex into a full-fledged business. Now, with the kids grown into young adults, and the gold and silver exploration sector beginning another run, I have decided to cancel all mineral shows Apex had scheduled for 2018. I will, however, continue with sporadic updates to the website.

Repurposing one of my various corporate head-shots...

After high school graduation in 1988, I went straight to university to play soccer and study Geology. Ultimately my soccer career was ended by injury, and Geology became more and more important to me. I graduated with a B.Sc. in Geology from George Mason University in Virginia, an M.Sc. in Geology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and a Ph.D. in Economic Geology from the Ralph J. Roberts Center for Research in Economic Geology, Mackay School of Mines, University of Nevada – Reno. The last degree was my gateway to the mines and the minerals, and I’ve spent the last 20+ years covering vast swaths of Nevada, with several generally short stints elsewhere.


I began Apex Fine Minerals (formerly Apex Mineral Resources) in 2002 while working for Newmont Gold Corp. and living in the town of Elko, Nevada. The mining/exploration industry is fickle, to say the least, and I wanted something to help bridge any gaps in employment as I endured dozens of mergers, acquisitions, and layoffs. I bought my first collection around 2001, and once I showed some cash, the floodgates opened. In all I purchased around two dozen individual collections, but the best part was the collecting, and I took numerous trips to mines such as Getchell, Twin Creeks, Meikle, Gold Quarry, and Midas, continuing to swell my inventory.

Christmas 1982, opening gifts from my Grandparents and Jim Minette