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SRK Global, RGC announce passing of founder Dr Andy Robertson

Dr Andy Robertson

Dr Andy Robertson

24th April 2023

By: Schalk Burger

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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Mining industry geotechnical and environmental engineering services company Robertson GeoConsultants (RGC) and engineering consultancy SRK Global have announced the passing of the companies' founder Dr Andy Robertson on March 29.

"Our hearts are with his family, as we share in their loss," they said in a joint statement on April 24.

Robertson was born in 1943, in Pretoria, where he was exposed to mining from a very young age. In 1966, he graduated with a BSc in Civil Engineering from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and completed his PhD there in 1977.

In 1974, when Robertson was 30 years old, he, Oskar Steffen and Hendrik Kirsten formed Steffen, Robertson & Kirsten (SRK) in Johannesburg. At the time, SRK was the only consulting firm in Africa to specialise in mining geotechnics.

In 1977, Robertson moved to Canada to start the first international branch of what became SRK Consulting. Several offices in the US were formed under his guidance.

In these early formative years of the company, he provided strong guidance and mentorship to many young engineers and geoscientists. Many went on to develop distinguished careers within SRK and other consulting or mining companies.

Currently, SRK has more than 1 600 employees in more than 40 offices worldwide.

Further, in addition to SRK, Robertson developed several other companies that serve the mining industry. He supported the development of Gemcom in 1981, which was the mining industry’s first computer-based exploration database, and an ore deposit modelling and openpit mine planning software system. In 2012, Gemcom was sold to Dassault Systèmes.

In 1995, Robertson founded RGC, which is a specialised, international mining consultancy based in Vancouver. His consulting practice included serving on several peer-review panels and independent review boards for some of the highest and most challenging tailing dams in the world.

"Over more than 50 years, Andy’s remarkable consulting career developed serving the mining industry, with a strong focus on improving mine waste management practices to reduce the environmental footprint of mining. During this time, he cofounded two very successful mining consulting firms, including a mine planning software company and a mining technology company.

"In February 2014, Andy was inducted into the International Mining Technology Hall of Fame for his work in environmental management and stewardship," SRK Global and RGC said.

Meanwhile, from the 1980s to the 2000s, Robertson worked on foundational research for the testing, prediction and control of acid rock drainage (ARD). He was a contributing member of the British Columbia ARD Task Force from 1985 to 1990, which published some of the industry’s first ARD guidelines.

He also wrote or contributed to industry technical guides on mine waste management, uranium mill waste disposal and guidelines for the rehabilitation of mines. These guidelines established the foundation for environmental best practices in the industry, the companies said.

"Further, Andy’s interest in raising industry standards was a pervasive theme through his work. He was instrumental in pioneering the use of failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA), which was one of the first systematic techniques for failure analysis, and multiple accounts analysis (MAA) for engineered solutions in the mining industry.

"In the late 1990s, he published several papers on the use of FMEA and MAA that are still commonly referenced today in the mining industry," the companies noted.

Additionally, Robertson worked tirelessly during his career to protect the environment, communities, water quality and water supplies. He leveraged his background in rock mechanics, geotechnical engineering and geochemistry to raise the bar for environmental stewardship within the industry and for the work products he delivered, SRK and RGC highlighted.

"Andy was passionate about improving the design, construction, operation and closure of tailings dams. To make tailings dams safer, he advocated for improving the technology used for the design, construction and long-term stability of tailing dams; for fiscal responsibility in the construction and operation of these dams; and for governance so that designs account for the needs of future generations and changes in societal expectations.

"Beside Andy’s brilliant mind, business acumen and ability to spot talent, he was also admired for his humility, kindness and generosity.

"Andy was always willing to share his knowledge through publications, courses and countless meetings and discussions. His legacy will live on in all the engineers and scientists he has mentored over his remarkably long and successful career," the companies said.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online




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