Walter Lilge, P.Eng., an APEGGA life member with a long
and distinguished career in mining engineering, exploration
geology, education and research, passed away peacefully in
Edmonton on December 10, 2003, at the age of 97.
Mr. Lilge grew up on a farm near Bruderheim, Alta. Following
a short career as a school teacher, he entered engineering
at the University of Alberta. In 1933 he graduated in mining
engineering (geology option). He was also the first recipient
of the Northern Alberta Branch of the Canadian Institute
of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum Prize.
He then worked for two years the Hidden Creek Mine in Anyox.
B.C. In 1935 the mine closed and he returned to the U of
A as a graduate student.
In 1936, while working on his master of science degree, Mr.
Lilge was appointed a professorship and assigned to teach
fire assaying and ore dressing. In the summers over the next
20 years, he supervised many mineral exploration projects
in Western and Northern Canada. In the summers of 1942 and
1943 he carried out flotation research for Consolidated Mining
and Smelting at Kimberley, B.C.
In the late 1940s Mr. Lilge purchased a Driessen Cone (hydrocyclone)
and began carrying out research with this device, which at
that time was new to mining. In 1959 he was awarded the Engineering
Institute of Canada Leonard Gold Medal for a paper on the
operating variables of the Driessen Cone.
His work on cyclones is best known from his publication Hydrocyclone
Fundamentals, which won him the Consolidated Gold Fields
of South Africa Medal for the best paper at the Institution
of Mining and Metallurgy conference in London in 1960.
In 1954 he took over as head of the Department of Mining
and Metallurgy at the University of Alberta from Karl A.
Clark. Under Mr. Lilge’s leadership
a formal degree program in metallurgy was initiated in 1956. This program continues
today as the successful materials engineering program.
Mr. Lilge successfully fought to keep the mining program alive at U of A in
the 1960s, when low enrolments threatened mining engineering programs and some
were terminated. The U of A program has now evolved into one of the strongest
mining engineering programs in Canada.
Throughout his life Mr. Lilge had great concern for the environment. He was
a strong proponent of hydrometallurgy, which he felt would replace smelters.
His interest in the environment also led to research on dealing with solid
waste. In the late 1960s he published a paper titled Conversion of City Refuse
to Useful Products.
He retired from the university in 1971 and lived in Edmonton pursuing his hobbies
of woodworking, gardening and golf. Mr. Lilge’s passing is deeply mourned
by his wife of 61 years, Elizabeth; his daughter Rhoda Witherly of Prince Rupert;
and his son Jay of Toronto.