Klaus Konigsmann. Courtesy of Klaus' family

The mining community has lost an iconic figure. On April 26 Klaus Konigsmann passed away at age 88 after a brief illness.

There are few in our industry who did not know, or know of, Klaus. He had an illustrious career in mineral processing and mining that spanned more than 50 years from his graduation from McGill University’s metallurgical engineering program in 1958 until his retirement as a consultant just a few years ago.

The first several decades of his career were spent at operating sites in northwestern Quebec, including Noranda’s Mattagami Lake mines where he served as mill metallurgist when operations began in 1963, becoming mill superintendent in 1968. While at Mattagami, Klaus was one of the first to introduce onstream analysis and computer flotation control in mills. In 1977 he moved to Oakville, Ontario, to serve as director of milling for Noranda Minerals and eventually became vice-president of engineering until his retirement in 1995. This was followed by a very active period as a consultant to the industry with involvement in process design and evaluations on a global scale, including at the Antamina copper-zinc project in Peru, the Çayeli copper-zinc operation in Turkey and the Kemess copper-gold mine in British Columbia.

Perhaps Klaus’ greatest legacy has been the many young engineers he mentored, encouraged and championed throughout his career. As noted by his son Eric during his eulogy to his father, Klaus’ advice to these young people was to “surround yourself with people smarter than you are and shine by reflected glory.” Many of these young people not only became successful colleagues in the industry but lifelong friends who admired his outgoing, gregarious and gracious nature.

Klaus gave of his time and energy freely to causes that mattered to him. He was a strong supporter of the Canadian Mineral Processors (CMP) society and was involved at its transition from the Canadian Gold Metallurgists into CMP in 1968–69. CMP honoured him as the inaugural recipient of the Mill Man of the Year award in 1984 and as a Life Member in 1995. CIM and the Metallurgical and Materials Society (MetSoc) has recognized him for his many contributions with the Airey and Life Member awards and a CIM Fellowship.

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“Klaus was Canada’s most respected and knowledgeable expert in the field of mineral processing,” said Alex Balogh, the retired CEO and chairman of Falconbridge and deputy chair of Noranda. “He practiced his profession tirelessly and walked through most of the world’s processing plants offering advice generously. He was honoured to receive lifetime achievement awards from his peers in the mining industry. But when I asked Klaus what achievement he was most proud of during his career, without hesitation he said, ‘My contribution to the Canadian Mineral Industry Education Foundation.’ Klaus, together with Graham Farquharson and the foundation directors, made possible the education of hundreds of young Canadians who aspired to an engineering career in the mining industry.”

Ernie Marcotte, inaugural chairman of CMP in 1968–69, recalled that Klaus “was a very positive contributor to the many operations-oriented discussions that took place, as well as an obvious strong promoter of CMP. Klaus provided many positive suggestions and recommendations pertaining to the many mineral processing developments that were presented at the annual meetings. His appropriate leadership, knowledgeable comments and prudent suggestions were very much appreciated by the members, who had a very favourable regard and respect for Klaus and his contributions.”

Klaus’ son Eric Konigsmann, a manager of project engineering at Teck Resources, said, “We will forever remember Klaus as a great father, a man who leaves a great legacy, a man who lived his life to the fullest, who never accepted compromise at the expense of anyone, a leader and a person upon whom we can only aspire to live up to.”

Klaus is survived by his children Eric (Claudia), Ann (David) and Peter (Susan), and his grandchildren Peter, Mark, Jennifer, Tyler, Kyle and Sean. Klaus was preceded in death by his wife, Yolande, in 2007.

Jan Nesset is the director of Nessetech Consulting Services Inc.