Obituary – Ian Chaston FIMMM

Fellows' Lounge
21 Jan 2015

It is with sadness that we announce the death of Ian R M Chaston in November 2014, at the age of 82. 

Ian was born in Carshalton, UK, in 1931 and was educated at Merchant Taylors’ School. He went on to serve as a National Service officer in the Royal Artillery and to take a degree in Extraction Metallurgy at the Royal School of Mines, London, from 1951–1955.

He started his metallurgical career in Thailand, in the tin industry, but his subsequent career took him all over the world. Ian’s speciality, at which he excelled, was heavy media separation, and in this field he wrote many important technical papers and corresponded enthusiastically with other experts.

Ian then joined Anglo American/De Beers in Johannesburg, working in the diamond division, where he became a well-known authority of the technology. In the mid 1970s, he transferred to Charter Consolidated, London, as Consulting Metallurgist heading up that division until 1988, after which he established his own consultancy. During his time with Charter, he had particular interest in and responsibility for the Panasqueira tungsten mine in Portugal and the Talc de Luzenac mine in France.

In private business, Ian was, among other things, an Associate Consultant with Saint Barbara, becoming involved with the company in 1993 soon after its inception. During his association with Saint Barbara, Ian spent time in Indonesia, Malaysia, New Caledonia, the Philippines and Singapore, where he was involved with the shipping of nickel laterite ores.

Ian was somewhat of a philosopher who led an interesting and slightly eccentric private life. He spent many weeks of the year sailing single-handed around the Atlantic. He lived by the Thames and was regularly to be seen stepping out onto his dingy for short sails and also a bit of windsurfing.

During his semi-retirement, Ian went to Seattle and purchased the yacht Elixir, which he had re-fitted on Vancouver Island. In September 1996, aged 65, he made an eventful trip to San Diego and Acapulco, before continuing on an extraordinary single-handed sail rounding Cape Horn, to the Falkland Islands. He later published an account of the adventure in a book titled Rounding the Horn. Ian’s route onwards was to have been via Cape Town and on to Australia for his daughter’s wedding. However, the sudden illness of his passenger who was hitching a lift with Ian from Port Stanley to Cape Town, compounded by a violent storm in the South Atlantic that wrecked Elixir’s navigation lights, made Ian conclude that, in his own words, ‘The better part of valour would be to return to the Falklands’.

Ian continued in his consulting business and regularly attended IOM3’s MinSouth meetings on the last Thursday of every month, where the mining community gets together in London, until his recent death.

Ian’s wife pre-deceased him but he leaves behind a son and four daughters. Ian was a distinguished metallurgist and a true character of our industry who will be sadly missed.

Andy Wells, Kenneth Severs, Tony Francis