Described justly as “a national asset”, Gerald Hatch has been honoured numerous times for his outstanding contributions to the advancement of process metallurgy and his leadership in multi-discipline consulting services. His world-renowned engineering firm, Hatch Associates, has successfully guided many metallurgical projects through the critical stages of research, development and production.
Born July 30, 1922 in Brockville, Ontario, Hatch attended secondary school and university in Montreal. In 1944, he obtained a degree in metallurgical engineering from McGill University, graduating with honours. Physical disabilities prevented Hatch from serving during the Second World War, but he immersed himself in study and obtained, in 1948, a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Hatch soon became involved in developing process technology for the production of ductile titanium. In 1952, Hatch became works manager of the world’s largest ilmenite smelter, operated by Quebec Iron and Titanium (QIT) in Sorel, Quebec. At QIT, Hatch was part of a team that turned the venture from a potential business and technical failure into the successful operation it is today.
Hatch left QIT to pursue a dream of building an engineering-based organization that could contribute to the research and development, marketing, operating and financial aspects of industry projects. He knew from his days at QIT that such a comprehensive approach enabled the completion of projects on time and within budget, while keeping the period of negative cash flow as short as possible. A man by the name of W.A. Atkins, who operated a successful consulting firm in Great Britain, helped nurture Hatch’s dream and gave the Canadian the opportunity to develop the type of organization he sought to create.
In 1958, Hatch’s consulting firm, which employed six people, opened its doors in Toronto. By 1965, the firm’s payroll has grown to 60 people. Hatch and two associates later bought the firm. By 1976, Hatch Associates employed 700 and had become the comprehensive, unique organization Hatch dreamed of, serving clients around the world on a repeat basis. In the 1990s, the company withstood the recession, expanding their services in Canada and abroad.
Hatch took a hands-on approach to running his firm, and played a leading role in such projects as developing a new process for ore reduction and electric furnace smelting at Falconbridge’s ferronickel smelter in the Dominican Republic. In another area of significant industrial importance, he recognized the potential of direct reduced iron as a feedstock for electric furnace steelmaking. Hatch Associates won the Governor General Award for Excellence for the implementation of that method.
Throughout the course of his career, Hatch also obtained a number of patents and published many papers, particularly in the field of high-temperature and metallurgical engineering. He retired in 1990, but not before helping advance the science of metallurgical processing at mining operations the world over.