Canadian Mining Journal

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OBITUARY: Richard Herbert Train Garnett



OAKVILLE, Ont. – Richard Herbert Train Garnett, born Aug. 7, 1936 in Leeds, Yorkshire, England, passed away on Jan. 26, 2019, at his home in Oakville, Ont.

Richard Garnett

During his 55-year career as a mining engineer and geologist, Richard was instrumental in the discovery and expansion of several deposits, including Voisey’s Bay, Donlin Creek and the Geevor tin mine in Cornwall.

At age 10, he was awarded a scholarship to Hymers College, Hull, a success which he later claimed, opened career opportunities he would not otherwise have dreamt of.  On leaving Hymers College in 1954, Richard entered the Royal School of Mines, part of Imperial College, London, on a state scholarship to study mining engineering.  He graduated with first class honors in 1957, aged 20.

His newly acquired degree exempted Richard from two years of otherwise compulsory national military service.  Richard decided to put that time to good use by gaining a further degree in mineral exploration and, finally, in 1962, his PhD in economic geological engineering.  Simultaneously, he rose through the ranks of the Student’s Union to become president of the Union in 1958-59.

His PhD led to his tin ore discovery at the Geevor tin mine, adding 30 years to the life of the mine.  While in Cornwall, Richard met his wife, Valerie, whom he married in 1961.

His impressive 55-year career included employment with Rio Tinto, Anglo American, Hudson Bay Mining and Diamond Field Resources, as well as becoming a sought-after industry consultant until the age of 79.  During his career he worked on five continents – spending five years in South East Asia, two in Spain, two in the United Kingdom, 12 in Southern Africa and the remainder of his career in North America.  He began as a geologist and rose through the mining industry ranks to join a number of corporate boards as a director.

1n 1987, Richard and Valerie moved to Alaska with responsibilities centred on Anglo American’s gold interests in Canada and the United States.  In 1988, he successfully applied his experienced intuition to the successful guidance of his team in the Donlin Creek 40-million-ounce gold deposit in Alaska.  He was recognized internationally for his role in this successful venture.  The deposit is now being brought into production by an American company.

In the early Nineties, Richard settled in Canada and became an independent consultant.  As the technical director of Diamond Field Resources, he was instrumental in the early recognition and exploration of the Voisey’s Bay nickel deposit.  He strongly disagreed with the view expressed by his field workers that the Voisey’s Bay deposit was comprised of low grade copper, believing instead that it was a significant nickel deposit.  As a result, Diamond Field Resources retained the deposit, eventually selling it to Inco for $4.5 billion.

Richard’s approach to life, and to business, was to gain a full understanding of any problem before making a major decision.  He employed this approach with great success in the practical search for mineral deposits.  His education, experience and intuition were all brought to bear on any investment or development decision.

Richard became recognized as a world expert on the exploration and exploitation of marine placer deposits after working on them in Alaska, Malaysia and Namibia.

Richard fully embraced his chosen career and was enormously successful and well respected by his colleagues in the mining industry.  He had a breadth of knowledge that spanned asbestos to zinc and became a valuable source of knowledge and experience to many younger professionals joining the industry.  His core values of integrity, fairness, dedication and pure hard work were manifest wherever he was employed.

As a result of ill health Richard retired in 2016, but not before he had played a major role in bringing into production South America’s first successful hard rock diamond mine in Brazil.

Richard leaves his wife, Valerie, three daughters, three sons-in-law and six grandchildren.


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