1 June 2022

Obituary – Maurice James Cahalan OBE FREng Hon FIMMM

Born and educated in Australia, Maurice had a long and distinguished career in the minerals extraction industries worldwide, and was a past President of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy (IMM)

Maurice James Cahalan OBE FREng Hon FIMMM

After working for one year with Adelaide Chemical and Fertilizer Co, Australia, Maurice joined Roan Antelope Copper Mines, Zambia, early in 1947. He first came to England in mid-1948 and worked for a short period on tin recovery from dumps in Cornwall. From 1949 until 1952 he was employed by the Department of Atomic Energy, Ministry of Supply at Harwell, UK, with the United Kingdom Geological Survey, and in Portugal.

He joined Rio Tinto Co Ltd, in 1952 and worked in Spain as superintendent of the copper concentrator until 1955. He returned to England briefly in that year and was seconded to Brunswick Mining and Smelting, Canada. He returned to London at the end of 1956 and was chief metallurgist for Rio Tinto at the time of the merger with Consolidated Zinc in 1962. With the Rio Tinto-Zinc Corporation (RTZ) he was employed by Imperial Smelting Corporation and was Chief Executive of a subsidiary, Thorium Ltd during a period when that company earned the Queen’s Award to industry for both technological innovation and export achievement. He then became the RTZ Research Co-ordinator.

Maurice was the author of a number of technical/scientific papers. He was Chairman of the Ministry of Technology Advisory Committee on Mineral Processing and Metals Extraction and was a member of the Advisory Board of Warren Spring Laboratory, Stevenage, UK. He was elected to Associate Membership of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy (IMM) in 1950 and was transferred to full membership in 1959, serving as a Member of Council from 1962 to 1969. He was elected President of IMM for 1970-71.

Maurice was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the New Year Honours 1979 while he was Head of the Research Department at RTZ. In 1980, Maurice was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng). Subsequently, he made regular gifts to the Royal Academy of Engineering Annual Fund for some years. In 1989, he was appointed to the first British Geological Survey Programme Board. From 1991 to 1998 he was a director of CMS Associates.

Maurice’s parents were Patrick and Linda Cahalan, and he had two older sisters, Patricia and Betty. Maurice died on 11 March 2022 in Inverness aged 97 years. His wife Beta, who he married in 1951, died in 2018. He is survived by his daughter Christine, son Patrick and daughter-in-law Susan, and their family Leon, Sean and three grandchildren.

Maurice is fondly remembered by many IOM3 (formerly IMM) members and colleagues. He is also sadly missed by the friends he made during his retirement in Scotland.

David Seath CEng FIMMM

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