It is with great sadness that we share the passing of Don Welch on June 12, 2017 and Ken Been on June 13, 2017. Both men led incredible careers for Golder and were responsible for many accomplishments that helped shape our company and the industry at large.
As a 50 year veteran of Golder, Don Welch was renowned for his passion for problem-solving, his leadership within Golder, and for his experience in solving critical and complex challenges in the mining industry.
Don’s work took him all around the world, from road projects in South Africa and Paraguay, to hydroelectric dams in Greece, to infrastructure development in Hong Kong, to site selection for nuclear power stations in Iran and land reclamation projects in Egypt. Ultimately, Don became an acknowledged global expert in the management of mine tailings—from site selection studies through operation to decommissioning, as well as in dams, embankments and water management. He worked on mines in conditions ranging from the tropics to permafrost and to high altitude and desert sites. He supervised 20 tailings basin site selection studies and was involved with tailings at over 50 mines in various parts of the world.
A prolific writer, Don authored or co-authored 38 technical papers on tailings and paste, with 43 different co-authors. He was one of only two consultants who participated on the Mining Association of Canada committee that developed the 1998 “Guide to the Management of Tailings Facilities”. He helped incorporate tailings dams into the Canadian Dam Safety Guidelines and also developed numerous internal Golder guides and tools for water balance modelling and mine waste management. Don contributed a chapter on water management to a handbook on stability in surface mines by The Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration Inc. (SME). For several years, Don was also heavily involved with the Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada (ACEC) on export committees and eventually as a Vice President.
After graduating with a B.Sc. degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Cape Town, Ken Been went on to become a Rhodes Scholar, attaining a PhD from the University of Oxford in 1980. Ken joined Golder in 1981, and throughout his career he was a leading force working for Golder in locations throughout Canada, Germany, the UK, and the US. As a Principal and leading expert in investigation, design, and construction in support of offshore exploration, his expertise included pipelines, sand and gravel islands, hybrid structures, and spray ice islands. During his career, he became a globally-recognized expert in geotechnical engineering involving reclaimed land and soft soils, in particular, for liquefied natural gas (LNG) and other onshore facilities for the oil and gas industry in North America, Africa and South America.
In 2005, Ken became Golder’s first global Oil and Gas sector leader. Thanks to Ken’s acknowledged leadership and passion, Golder’s Oil & Gas industry grew significantly to become the second largest client sector in Golder. Always interested in sharing knowledge and advancing geotechnical engineering, Ken authored over 60 papers. The state parameter paper (Been and Jefferies, 1985) is still among the 10 most cited papers ever in Geotechnique. In 2006, Mike Jefferies and Ken published a state-of-the-art book Soil Liquefaction: A Critical State Approach that is a recognized standard for civil engineers developing solutions for areas of the world subject to seismic activity. His most recent paper was an invited keynote address entitled “Characterizing Mine Tailings for Geotechnical Design”; it summarized much of his technical contributions and was published in Australian Geomechanics Volume 51 in December 2016.
The Torch is Passed
What these two men had most in common was their dedication to the next generation. Without fail, both Ken and Don were generous in their time in teaching and developing expertise in young professionals. As a result, even as we say goodbye, we see the next generation rising to take up the torch. Many have stepped forward to share the stories of how they learned from, and were mentored by, Don and Ken, and how they, in turn, are inspired to continue to drive innovation forward. So as we celebrate their lives, we also know their legacies will endure through our Golder culture and continuing commitment to technical excellence.