It has been said of Frederick R. Archibald that he had a genius for devising creative metallurgical solutions and transforming those solutions into operating process facilities.
This creativity is beyond question. But the sheer breadth of his work is awe-inspiring: a process for treating arsenical ores; fluid-bed roasting and electric furnace smelting technology, both of which were applied to Falconbridge’s Sudbury ores; a special process to treat lateritic nickel deposits in the Dominican Republic; the Hydride Process and a soda-sinter process for recovering alumina from clay. He was also the chief architect of two research laboratories – Lakefield Research and another Falconbridge lab north of Toronto.
Born in Seaforth, Ont, in 1905, Frederick R. Archibald graduated from Queen’s University with a B.A. (Medallist in Chemistry) in 1933 and an M.A. (Chemistry) in 1934. He attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Graduate School in 1947 and 1948.
From 1934 to 1940, he worked with Professor G.J. MacKay at Queen’s on the MacKay Process for treating arsenical ores. He later joined Beattie Gold Mines, a Ventures Ltd. company, as a research chemist. His achievements at Beattie led to the treatment of the arsenical ores at Giant Yellowknife. He went on to establish the Ventures Ltd. Research Laboratory at Beattie and another at Lakefield, Ont. This lab still flourishes today as Lakefield Research.
In the midst of the Second World War, Archibald was enlisted to guide the design and construction of a plant to produce uranium metal from Canadian uranium oxides. Dubbed the Hydride Process, this was a crucial part of the U.S. war effort, for it was a key component of the Manhattan Project, the building of the world’s first atomic bomb.
Archibald’s superb metallurgical versatility was again tested following the war when he designed, built and operated a plant producing alumina from clay in South Carolina.
He later was named Chief Metallurgist of Falconbridge, retiring to a consultancy in 1971.
All through his work in the private sector, Archibald supported academic research and trained graduate students.