24 November 2023

Obituary - David Seath CEng FIMMM

David was a member of the IOM3 Executive Board, Audit Committee and Mining Technology Leadership Group as Honorary Secretary of the Mining Institute of Scotland, an Affiliated Society within IOM3 for the advancement of all perspectives of minerals and mining.


David Seath BSc(Hons) CEng  FCMI FIMMM
14 November 1946 to 24 September 2023

David was a stalwart of the Mining Institute of Scotland as well as the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining and was a strong promoter of mining education.

Born in Fife in 1946, David grew up in the Blairhall, Comrie and Oakley area, right in the middle of the Fife coalfield attending Dunfermline High School in 1959.

An early ambition to manage a local coal mine led David to study Mining Engineering at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh where he graduated with a First in 1969. During that period as an undergraduate, he continued to play competitive basketball, a sport he had taken up in high school. Later in his working life, he gained Diplomas in both Management Studies and in Accountancy and Finance from Edinburgh Napier University.

Upon graduation he joined the National Coal Board as an Engineering Trainee, working at various collieries in the NCB’s Scottish Area including as night shift overman at Killoch Colliery in Ayrshire, before being appointed as Undermanager at Bogside Colliery, part of the Longannet Complex, in 1976. This was followed by a spell back at Killoch, initially as Undermanager and then as Deputy Manager, before being appointed as Colliery Manager at Comrie Colliery in 1983. David held further Colliery Manager posts at Polmaise and Monktonhall Collieries. Not content with being Colliery Manager at Comrie, David was also captain of the Colliery’s Mines Rescue team.

By 1990, the underground coal mining industry in Scotland was in serious decline and David moved south to Bretby and latterly to British Coal’s Headquarters at Eastwood Hall, working in the Technical Department, Operations Department and finally as Manager of the UK Mines Rescue Service before retiring from the coal industry in 1995, although he did continue to carry out some consultancy work from time to time, including on mining projects in Europe and the USA. During his time at Bretby and Eastwood Hall, he also represented British Coal on various ECSC Expert Committees on health and safety, including the Working Party on Rescue, Mine Fires and Explosions. David also represented the UK on the Committee on Safety and Health in Mines set up by the ILO in Geneva and even went as far as Australia in the same field. Whenever mining incidents reached the news headlines, such as the trapped Chilean miners, David would be called on for comment.

The second career in David’s working life started in 1995 with a move to Lothian & Borders Police Force where he worked as Head of Central Services, later becoming the Head of Estates for Police Scotland. He was instrumental in his civilian role in the smooth merger of the previously eight separate Scottish Police force estate teams following the creation of Police Scotland in 2013. David retired from Police Scotland in 2017.

David’s involvement within the Mining Institute of Scotland was immense, both in duration and in standing. He joined the Institution of Mining Engineers in 1996, became involved on the MIS Council from 1984, standing as President in 1993 and taking on the role of Secretary in 1999. It would be fair to say that the MIS would not have been as successful a Local Society had David not been involved and may have even failed without his input. He was instrumental in encouraging engineers from Aberdeen’s oil industry to come on board and use the MIS as a route to Chartered Engineer status. Along with Allan Thomson, they created links with St Andrews University which continue to this day.

The Mining Institute of Scotland, however, was only part of David’s activities. His was a well-known face within IOM3, being active on the Executive Board, Audit Committee, Local Affairs Committee, Mining Technology Group (MTG) and the Advisory Council acting as the Scottish Regional Representative. His input to the MTG will be greatly missed by his Group colleagues. In 2009, David received an IOM3 Outstanding Service award and in 2014 was awarded the Sir Andrew Bryan Medal. He was also a passionate Trustee at the National Mining Museum of Scotland and Chairman of the Mining Institute of Scotland Trust.

David passed away in hospital in Kirkcaldy, Fife on 24 September 2023. He is survived by his wife Patricia, who he married in September 1975 and by their daughter Laura, born in 1982, her husband Peter and granddaughter Philippa, born in 2019. David will be sorely missed by family, friends, colleagues and all who met him.

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