Andy Robertson the founder of Robertson GeoConsultants (RGC) and SRK Global, dies at 79

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Dr. Andy Robertson 1943-2023

Dr. Andrew (Andy) MacGregor Robertson was born in 1943 in Pretoria, South Africa, 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 Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and completed his PhD there in 1977.

Over the next 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, 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.

Well before that honor, in 1974 when Andy was just 30 years old, he, Oskar Steffen, and Hendrik Kirsten formed Steffen, Robertson & Kirsten in Johannesburg, South Africa. At the time, SRK was the only consulting firm in Africa to specialize in mining geotechnics.

Four years later in 1977, Andy 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 as well as other consulting or mining companies. Today, SRK has over 1600 employees worldwide in 40+ offices.

In addition to SRK, Andy developed several other companies that serve the mining industry. He supported the development of Gemcom in 1981, the mining industry’s first PC-based exploration database as well as ore deposit modelling, and open pit mine planning software system. In 2012, Gemcom was sold to Dassault Systèmes, owner of GEOVIA.

In 1989, Andy launched InfoMine, with the vision of making mining information more widely available. He spearheaded the digital strategy that became the cornerstone of the company and under his leadership, InfoMine expanded to include EduMine.com (training), CareerMine (recruitment), and Mining.com (news).

In 1995, Andy founded Robertson GeoConsultants, a specialised, international mining consultancy based in Vancouver, BC. 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.

From the 1980s to 2000, Andy 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. Andy 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.

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)—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.

During his career, Andy worked tirelessly 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.

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 today’s 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. Truly a great man !

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