The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum inducted five mining industry leaders during a ceremony held September 14, at the museum in Leadville, Colorado, USA. They were selected for being visionaries, leaders and ambassadors, both within their sectors and across the industry at large.
Charles F. Barber (1917-2012) was a top executive at leading U.S. metals producer Asarco from 1956 to 1982. He joined Asarco as general counsel in 1956 and was elected executive vice president in 1963 and president in 1969. He served as chairman and CEO from 1971 to 1982. During his tenure, Asarco responded successfully to the demanding requirements of new environmental legislation in the United States and to changing concepts of foreign investment in mining, especially in Latin America. During the 1970s, Southern Peru Copper Co., owned 51.5% and managed by Asarco, developed the trail-blazing, Cuajone copper project in Peru. Barber took the lead in arranging the complex financing of more than $600 million for the project, which came into production in 1976. Barber was for many years an active participant in the work of the American Mining Congress and served for three years as its chairman. He was a noted author and lecturer and provided active leadership in numerous organizations concerned with education, the law, international relations and the mining community.
Dr. Donald W. Gentry’s (1943-2012) career took him from being a working mining engineer, to renowned mining educator, to mining consultant, to respected mining company corporate director, to president and CEO of mining companies. As an educator, he had a positive impact upon hundreds, if not thousands, of new mining engineers and many others who took his short courses in mine economics. Dr. Gentry was a prolific technical writer, publishing papers about mining engineering, education, and economics. He co-authored Mine Investment Analysis, with Thomas J. O’Neil. He worked as a mining engineer for Anaconda Copper Co., Kennecott Copper Corp. and NL Industries. Later he served on the boards of Santa Fe Pacific, Newmont and Polymet Mining, among others. Gentry consulted for many mining companies as well as many U.S. government agencies. He retired from the Colorado School of Mines in 1998 as a professor emeritus of Mining Engineering. Gentry set the standard for integrity and ethical behavior for all who had contact with him.
Born in 1915 and raised in Cordova, Alaska, Patrick O’Neill began his mining career on a gold dredge at the early age of 15. In 1953, he was chief engineer and manager at South American Gold and Platinum Co.—a gold and platinum dredging operation in Colombia. At the time, the company was plagued with poor profitability due to social problems that included employee illiteracy, poverty-level wages, inadequate housing and poor medical conditions. O’Neill became an outspoken advocate for corporate policies that struck the right balance between profitability, social responsibility and environmental stewardship. As COO, O’Neill became an industry leader in calling for measures to improve the health, education, training, and safety of employees. O’Neill for more than 30 years provided practical management oversight of mining operations throughout Latin America.
During his career, Milton H. Ward (1932-2011) directed or was responsible for exploration, planning, development, processing, smelting, marketing, and other activities in the mineral industry on six of seven continents. He relished creating and growing shareholder value of mining organizations. He was president, chairman and CEO for Cypress Amax Minerals from 1992 to 1999, and he was president and COO of Freeport-McMoRan from 1983 to 1992, during which time he was instrumental in developing Freeport’s world-class Indonesian operations. His introduction to mining was as a miner, engineer, and supervisor with San Manuel Copper.
Ward was the recipient of numerous minerals-industry accolades. He enjoyed the structured learning and definitive goals provided by formal education. While working through the corporate ranks, he earned a Ph.D. from University of London’s Royal School of Mines. Ward was of humble beginnings, and he often cited joining the Boy Scouts of America as a turning point in his life.
David A. Zegeer (1922-2012) dedicated his mining career to protecting the health and safety of miners, as a corporate mining executive, as head of the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), and as a community leader. His tenure at MSHA coincided with a period of remarkable progress in U.S. mining safety. In three of his years as assistant secretary of labor under President Reagan, mining fatalities in the coal industry and in the metal and non-metal mining industries decreased to historic lows.
Zegeer began his mining career with Consolidation Coal Co. in Jenkins, Kentucky, in 1946.
Upon his retirement in 1977, Zegeer became a highly sought after mining consultant. A recognized expert on mine explosions, he led or participated in efforts to recover survivors of mine explosions or investigations of explosions in numerous states, Nova Scotia, South Africa and Australia. As assistant secretary of labor from 1983 to 1987, he emphasized his personal safety philosophy of the Three E’s—education, engineering, and enforcement. He championed the U.S. Labor Department’s first program dealing specifically with substance abuse in the workplace and encouraged specialized training courses on safety for areas such as mine supervision, coal mine ventilation and roof falls.