Skip to content

Hatch executive director, Dr. Bert Wasmund, passes away at age 82

Dr. Wasmund built a legacy as a pioneer in the mining and metals industry and a life-long mentor
Bert Wasmund (Hatch)
(Hatch photo)

Toronto, Canada — The Hatch community is saying farewell to long-time colleague, friend, and mentor, Dr. Bert Wasmund, who passed away on January 30, 2022 at the age of 82.

Dr. Wasmund has been recognized for more than 60 years as an international expert in metallurgical and chemical processes for smelting metals. Throughout his career, Dr. Wasmund made a series of breakthrough contributions to the metallurgical industries in Canada and around the world, which greatly reduced the industry’s environmental impact.

Dr. Wasmund was raised on the family farm in rural Ontario. After graduating from high school, he worked for over a year in the metallurgical laboratory of Bicroft Uranium Mines, where he was encouraged by their chief chemist to study chemical engineering.

Dr. Wasmund heeded the advice, studying chemical engineering at Queen’s University, earning his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in 1961 and 1963. Upon obtaining his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 1966, Dr. Wasmund joined Hatch and soon became known for his strong technical skills and innovative approach for solving long-standing industrial problems.

Sign up for the Sudbury Mining Solutions weekly newsletter here.

Most noteworthy was his 1973 invention of technology for protecting the walls of smelting furnaces using solid copper elements, which greatly enhanced their productivity, life span, and energy efficiency. This patented technology was first used by Falconbridge at its Falcondo nickel-smelting complex in the Dominican Republic and later became the cornerstone of Hatch’s thriving custom-design furnace business, which continues to this day with more than 200 installations worldwide.

In the 1970s and 80s, Dr. Wasmund was recognized for his contributions to the environmental progress in the mining industry for his work in Sudbury’s nickel district. First, he and the Falconbridge team implemented a strategy to replace outdated blast furnaces with a new smelting process using electric furnaces and fluid-bed roasters, from which the sulphur dioxide was converted to saleable acid.

Together with a similar SO2 Abatement program implemented later at Inco, the air quality dramatically improved, and the vexing acid-rain problem was virtually eliminated. In 1989, Dr. Wasmund and the Hatch team revolutionized the platinum smelting business with the design of an electric smelting furnace for Impala Platinum in South Africa, which resulted in tripling daily production, and reduced energy requirements by 25 percent, thereby greatly improving their competitiveness.

Dr. Wasmund’s numerous successful innovations have gained wide recognition and awards, including the prestigious Noranda Airey Award in 1998, induction into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame in 2011, the pre-eminent Ontario Professional Engineer’s Gold Medal in 2012, and inclusion into the Order of Canada in 2017.

Just this past year, in 2021, Dr. Wasmund received the Selwyn Blaylock Canadian Mining Excellence Award from the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum. Though known for his many accomplishments and technical expertise, those lucky enough to have worked with Dr. Wasmund would agree that perhaps his most significant contribution to Hatch may have been his passion for mentorship.

Through his commitment to train, guide, and support innumerable colleagues throughout the years, Dr. Wasmund helped develop future generations of experts who will carry on his legacy and commitment to engineering excellence. Until recently, Dr. Wasmund could still be found working daily and could always be relied on to be seen enjoying lunch and conversation with young colleagues, regaling them with stories and sharing with them his expertise amassed over a long and lustrous career.

Throughout his successful academic and professional career, Dr. Wasmund has never lost sight of how his ancestral roots shaped his career.

The Wasmund Family Memorial Scholarship named to honor his parents, reflects the family’s values, and provides the graduates with great opportunities to improve their communities. A similar Wasmund Family Aboriginal Scholars Award was established in 2011 that provides funding for worthy Indigenous students to earn honorary four-year degrees and achieve the highest level of academic accomplishment.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks