Few mining men have made as many and as varied contributions to the industry as Stephen Ogryzlo. A globe-trotter long before it became fashionable, Ogryzlo’s accomplishments are legion. He explored and outlined, in a joint-venture with Freeport Sulphur, major nickel laterite deposits in Indonesia. He recognized and proved up significant, open-pit asbestos deposits at Black Lake, Quebec. During his involvement with Patino Group, he increased production at the company’s mines in Chibougamau, Quebec, where he also discovered the LeMoine copper-zinc-gold deposit. In addition, he discovered several mineral deposits in Spain and accomplished remarkable engineering feats on the rocky road to commercial production there.
Born in Dauphin, Manitoba, Ogryzlo obtained, in 1931, a B.Sc. in geology and engineering from the University of Manitoba. In 1934, at the age of 23, he received a PhD from the University of Minnesota, the youngest recipient of that degree at the time.
It wasn’t long before he found work as a geologist at the Toburn gold mine, owned by American Smelting and Refining Company (later known as Asarco), in Kirkland Lake, Ontario. He was promoted to mine superintendent in 1937, and demonstrated his progressive approach to mining by introducing the jackleg drill and the Elmco loader at the operation.
A year later, Asarco sent Ogryzlo to examine mineral prospects the world over. A decade later, and still with Asarco, he teamed up with Freeport Sulphur to explore for nickel laterites on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Deposits were outlined, but weren’t developed for another 20 years owing to low nickel prices and the difficulty of working with a communist government. Those deposits are now being mined by Inco. Ogryzlo contracted malaria while in Indonesia, but its effects, which lasted for years, never dampened his enthusiasm or dedication to his work.
In 1951, Ogryzlo conducted a detailed survey of the asbestos industry in Quebec for Asarco, and concluded that the area under Black Lake was rich in asbestos. Ogryzlo was right, and a total of 17 drills soon delineated what proved to be a major deposit. The project is still operating today.
Ogryzlo relocated to Toronto in 1957 to join the Patino Group, for which he was to expand the copper reserve at the struggling Chibougamau mine. Under his leadership, throughput at the project increased to 2,800 tonnes per day from 800 tonnes per day, a significant accomplishment. He also discovered the nearby LeMoine deposit.
In the mid-1960s, Ogryzlo arranged a joint-venture with Rio Tinto in Spain. The partners outlined copper-gold deposits, and built a mine, concentrator and smelter, as well as a refinery and sulphuric acid plant. By 1970, Patino had expanded all over the world as a result of Ogryzlo’s work.
Throughout the course of his career, Ogryzlo also introduced new equipment and several mining processes of lasting benefit to the industry. He retired in 1978, but continued to act as a director and advisor. His career exemplifies a lifetime of service to the mining industry.