During an illustrious career spanning 50 years, Alex Balogh, who earned his place in a select group of industry leaders, helped shape and build Noranda and Falconbridge into two of the most successful mining and metallurgical giants in Canadian history. He has the rare distinction of contributing to the growth of both companies, starting with Noranda, which he joined at Gaspé Copper in 1954 after earning a degree in metallurgical engineering from McGill University in his home city of Montreal, Quebec. An early achievement while a shift foreman was the development while working with others of the now-famous “Gaspé Puncher” that significantly improved the operating efficiency and working conditions of copper converters; Heath & Sherwood subsequently licensed this machine worldwide. Another first as a civic activity and initially as a hobby was the founding with R. Ford of a bilingual newspaper, “The Gaspe Peninsula Voyageur” serving the Gaspé region for over 15 years.
Balogh’s central contribution to the mining industry and to society was in the 1970s, with the introduction of Noranda’s continuous smelting and converting process at the Horne smelter in Quebec. He furthered the development of new, successful nickel and copper mines that remain in operation today. This pioneering process having significantly improved energy and environmental efficiency, eliminated the emission of sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere, thus mitigating the “acid rain” issue, and ensured the longevity of the Horne smelter having the ability to treat a variety of feed materials as other smelters closed.
Balogh brought the same focus on responsible growth as he transitioned to executive positions at Noranda. As one of the architects, he oversaw Noranda’s investment in Falconbridge in 1989, and served as president and chief executive officer (CEO) of both companies in the 1990s. He developed several major mines during this period, notably the Raglan nickel project in Quebec’s Ungava region. The main challenge facing the stalled project was the remote location and short window to transport concentrates to an existing smelter. Balogh supported tests by a new ice-breaking vessel, which solved the shipping problem; the mine began in 1997. He encouraged the application of innovative technology to develop and maximize the value of the giant Collahuasi copper mine in Chile, and the Antamina copper-zinc mine in Peru.
Balogh was president and CEO of Falconbridge from 1989 to 1991, and chairman from 1994 to 2003. He was a senior executive at Noranda Mines from 1976 to 1988, president and CEO of Noranda Minerals from 1991 to 1994, and deputy chairman of Noranda Inc. from 1994 to 2003. During that time, Noranda enjoyed remarkable growth and had more than 30,000 employees worldwide by 1996, with total assets of almost $15 billion. The 2005 merger of Noranda and Falconbridge set the stage for one of the world’s largest mining and metallurgical conglomerates. While a wave of industry consolidation saw the merged entity acquired by a multi-national miner a year later, the legacies of its builders and leaders live on and continue to benefit all Canadians.
After retirement Balogh served the mining sector as a consultant, corporate director, mentor of young geoscientists, and strong supporter of industry associations and causes. In 2002, he received the CIM Vale Medal for Meritorious Contributions to Mining “in recognition of his many contributions as a metallurgical engineer, operations manager, and executive in the development of technologies which resulted in low-cost, environmentally sound operations for producing copper, zinc and nickel.”