J. Burgess Winter, an industry icon passed away on September 17, 2018. He began his mining career in 1959 in Kitwe, Zambia (Rhodesia at the time), working in the laboratories of Rhokana Corp. (a subsidiary of Anglo American). His first assignment was in the R&D Hydrometallurgy Section, but he was quickly promoted to plant metallurgist at the cobalt plant, and then to assistant superintendent of the smelter. He resigned from Rhokana mine (Zambia) in 1972 to become operations director for a local firm contracting to the industry, but in 1973, he went to South Africa and rejoined Anglo American at its head office in Johannesburg, working in the New Mining Business Department. He was involved in consulting roles in South Africa, Swaziland, Brazil and the USA. Significantly, Anglo’s Toronto-based operation (headed by Peter Gush) had at that time acquired a controlling interest in Inspiration Consolidated Copper Co, Arizona, and he was seeking technical and operating assistance from Johannesburg. Burgess was transferred in late 1976 to be assistant superintendent of the smelter operations; and this was the beginning of his outstanding North American career. He progressed through smelter superintendent and manager, and by 1979 he was vice president and general manager of Inspiration Copper. In 1983, Burgess moved to the Kennecott, Utah, Copper Division of Standard Oil of Ohio (SOHIO), as senior vice president operations. This important appointment included responsibilities for Utah, and copper operations at Chino, Ray and Ely, plus gold operations at Barney’s Canyon and Alligator Ridge. He guided the company through the difficult period of the 1985 temporary closure and he remained in his senior vice president until 1988. Late in 1988, Burgess was hired by Magma Copper Co as president and CEO, following the sudden death of the incumbent Magma officer, Brian Woolfe. At Magma, he was universally credited with turning around the Magma Copper Co., which at the time was the third largest copper company in the USA. He achieved this by a combination of improvements, expansions and acquisitions, the last-mentioned referring to the 1994 purchase of the Tintaya mine, in Peru, and the Robinson project in Nevada. The improvements within Magma included the upgrading of plant technology and increases in worker productivity, leading overall to a drastic reduction in production costs. The key to these improvements being made possible was, however, the success of the negotiations by Burgess and his management team, with the strongly-unionized labor force. These negotiations resulted in the 1991 signing of a 15-year labor contract with a seven-year no-strike clause. This was followed in 1992 by the formation of a 140-person cross-section of the entire staff of 5,000, who then thrashed out a vision for the future of the company, a vision that included worker participation in management, and a system that Burgess called “People Technology.” This organization was called the “Voice of Magma” and functioned for the remainder of Magma’s life, with quarterly three-day meetings. In January 1996, Burgess negotiated the sale of Magma Copper Co to Broken Hill Proprietary (BHP) of Australia. As part of the agreement, worked for one year leading BHP’s Copper Division. He retired from BHP in 1997. He continued with some private consultancy work for a number of companies, including for Lonmin and Minorco. In 1994, he was inducted into the American Mining Hall of Fame, and in 1995, he received the William Lawrence Saunders Gold Medal Award and the Daniel C. Jackling Award.
(Img: J. Burgess Winter)