Dr. Peter Winterburn

A former professor and geochemist Dr. Peter Winterburn was killed on Friday, June 21 in Valparaiso, Chile, during an attempted robbery. Winterburn left the University of British Columbia’s Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences in January to come back to the industry to work at Vale, based in Santiago.

According to CBC, Chilean police arrested two men suspected of killing Winterburn while he strolled with his family through Valparaiso, police said on June 25.

Those at the University of British Columbia (UBC) described Winterburn as a “compelling force” within the Mineral Deposit Research Unit (MDRU) as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)/Bureau Veritas Minerals executive industrial research chair in exploration geochemistry. He was appointed in 2014 and held the position for five years. Before that, he worked for more than 17 years in the minerals industry for AngloAmerican and then for Vale.

While at UBC, he implemented a widely recognized and successful research program in exploration geochemistry and he contributed to student and industry training, according to the university. His research identified mechanisms and controls on elemental transport through cover and developed strategies and techniques for their use. The knowledge and methods had impact as they were quickly picked up and applied by industry. He tested and evaluated numerous techniques and most recently worked on pioneering efforts in the application of genomic methods in mineral exploration.