22 February 2011

Introduction to the Bob Haldeman Interview

This was the introduction to the interview
taken in 1993, of which the full title is:

Robert M. Haldeman, "Managing Copper Mines
in Chile: Braden, CODELCO, Minerec,
Pudahuel; Developing Controlled Bacterial
Leaching of Copper from Sulfide Ores;
1941-1993," an oral history conducted in
1993 by Eleanor Swent, Regional Oral
History Office, The Bancroft Library,
University of California, Berkeley, 1995.

Above:  a view of the American sector
of the Braden Mine town of Sewell, Chile. This section was destroyed by
left-wing zealots who wanted to erase any obvious reminders of the original
American presence at the El Teniente Braden Copper Mine owned by Kennecott
Copper Corporation.
INTRODUCTION- -by Pedro Campino

Mr. Robert M. Haldeman's
accomplishments and realizations during a
lifetime of dedication to
the mining industry are responsible in many
ways for the enormous and
unprecedented prosperity of the Chilean copper
mining industry over the
last few decades.
In 1962 after graduating
from the University
of Utah
as mining
engineer, I first came in
contact with Mr. Haldeman in the underground
workings of the El Teniente
mine. At that time I was a young trainee
engineer in the early days
of my professional development and the day I
met him, it was in a
ventilation level, over a grizzly at the foot of an
ore pass. He was the
president of the company and he was accompanied by
a group of Braden Copper
Company executives. He was an impressive
individual as he is today,
tall, with piercing green eyes, wearing a
miner's hard hat slightly
tilted to one side, rubber boots, a black
plastic raincoat, and a
carbide lamp over his left shoulder. He was
indeed a very impressive
individual firstly because of his position, also
because of his appearance,
and thirdly because of my very junior
position. He came up to me,
he shook hands, and he told me: "Pedro, I
understand that you are
doing very well but remember that you could do
Thirty-two years later as I
look back through his accomplishments in
life and also at my own
professional development it becomes vividly
apparent that his "live
motive" in life was powerfully driven by exactly
that very same thought. That
is, that as individuals or corporations we
might be doing things well
but there is always room to do things better.
Bearing that in mind, Mr.
Haldeman has played a decisive role in the
development of the most
fundamental aspects of the Chilean mining
industry which in recent
years has also extended beyond our borders into
the international mining
Mr. Haldeman is beyond a
shadow of a doubt the father of a
particularly capable and
successful generation of mining executives.
Over the last thirty years,
through his lessons and teachings he
developed a generation of
distinguished mining people that today are
responsible for the
successful management of world-class mining
operations in
and abroad.
In my opinion, Mr.
Haldeman's most far-reaching lesson throughout
life was that related to
moral and ethical principles. He taught me from
early in life that there are
principles that simply are not negotiable no
matter what the
circumstances are. Among these are the principles
related to justice, equity,
responsibility, tolerance, and mutual respect
among individuals. These
principles were so deeply seeded in the minds
of his disciples that today
they have become a way of life in the
prosperous mining operations
managed by those who had the privilege to
belong to his school of
thought. Indeed Mr. Haldeman has been a master
teacher throughout life and
his lessons and teachings will continue to be
harvested for years to come.
Likewise in the technical
aspects of the copper producing process,
Mr. Haldeman became
disenchanted with the conventional process of copper
production: that is, mining,
concentrating, smelting and refining, which
up to the recent past was
the conventional and most common way to produce
metallic copper. The
conventional process was capital intensive, high in
operating costs, and
environmentally unacceptable. For example, copper
concentration is responsible
for the generation of tailings which are
difficult to handle and
environmentally undesirable. In addition,
smelting pollutes the air by
emissions of sulphur dioxide and dangerous
contaminants such as
arsenic. Very early in his career Mr. Haldeman
concluded that there should
be a more economical, efficient, and clean
way to produce copper. After
painful and persevering research he
developed the thin layer
bacterial leach process which produces copper
cathodes of great purity
(99.997% Cu) by means of leaching, solvent
extraction, and
electrowinning. This new process avoids concentrating
and smelting thus
eliminating tailings and air contamination. Because
the thin layer leach process
is not capital intensive, is simple to
operate, is low in operating
costs and is environmentally most
attractive, the world copper
industry is currently adopting this process
as a most desirable
alternative towards low-cost production.
Mr. Haldeman's key to
success and to a lifetime of long lasting
accomplishments are in my
opinion his privileged intelligence, his
stubborn determination to
rebel against the past in an effort to find
better ways to do things,
his firmness, and his nearly unbelievable
capability to analyze
situations. Undoubtedly those are remarkable
qualities of his character.
During his first marriage, his wife Doris
was again an inspiration and
counsel that we all learned to admire and
appreciate. She was indeed a
queenly lady who by her presence and
personality drove us all to
follow in her teachings and distinction.
After her death Mr. Haldeman
married Blanquita, again an inspiring and
lovely lady of great talent
and remarkable dedication. Her firm
character, love, and
devotion were instrumental in many ways to guide and
to help Mr. Haldeman through
a particularly difficult period in his life
resulting from the
nationalization of the copper industry in
followed by
' death. It was through her guidance and foresight that
they adopted lovely little
Alicia who has illuminated their lives and has
once again brought happiness
and joy to Mr. Haldeman's new life.
In summary, Mr. Haldeman has
been through life a born leader. He
has been admired by
followers and detractors . Through his guidance and
teachings he is undoubtedly
the father of a highly successful generation
of mining executives. He is
responsible as well for the development of
new processes that have
allowed the world mining industry to succeed in
this highly competitive
market, allowing operations to survive in
conditions where otherwise
they would have failed. His contribution to
the industry, to the
environment, and to Chile
as a mining community have
simply been monumental.
From a personal standpoint,
his teaching and his guidance through
life, always under the theme
of "doing well but could do better," have
developed me from a young
trainee engineer in the underground working of
the El Teniente mine to the
highest positions that a person can hold in
the mining industry. I owe
to my wife and to Mr. Haldeman all of my
appreciation and gratitude
for their guidance, support, and understanding
during every step of the way
throughout a highly successful career in the
mining industry.
Pedro Campino
President, Compania Minera


October 1994



Chile mining board 1967

Robert M. Haldeman, 1967, with his Chilean mining
board formed to control the El Teniente Mine following the deal with Kennecott
which enabled the Chilean government to purchase majority control, is third from
left on bottom. 

Return to the Chapter Index Pages  for
the Robert Haldeman interview

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