Dr. Alfred Weiss was a true visionary in using quantitative methods and digital computers to aid mineral exploration, plan and design mines, operate mineral production facilities, and integrate the disparate information resources throughout a mining company into a modern management information system.
He demonstrated that potential through projects at Bear Creek Mining Company and at its parent, the Kennecott Copper Corporation. He aided the rapid expansion of mining technical computer applications industry-wide through publications and support of the international APCOM symposia.
As a young mining engineer working for Bear Creek, he discovered the effectiveness of emerging quantitative methods while performing a statistical analysis of the Safford orebody. He moved to Salt Lake City and became the Chief of Bear Creek’s statistical unit. In 1965, Dr. Weiss became the Director of the Kennecott Scientific and Engineering Computer Center. There, he assembled his multidisciplinary team. His team would prove the value of computer-based mine planning in Kennecott’s open pit mines. It would also explore promising approaches for process modeling and plant automation using early process control computers and instrumentation. The projects required developing collaborative working relationships with management throughout the company. In 1972, he became the Corporate Director of Technical/Operating Systems in Kennecott’s New York headquarters.
Dr. Weiss and his team members were early and frequent contributors to the dissemination of these advancements through technical papers presented at SME/AIME meetings and in the APCOM Symposia. He served for several years on the APCOM International Council. In 1969, he edited A Decade of Digital Computing in the Minerals Industry, which documented the progress of the Computer Age in mining. A companion book followed in 1979.
In 1975, Dr. Weiss became the Assistant Director for Program Development and Evaluation at the U.S. Bureau of Mines in Washington. He returned to the private sector in 1978, first to join EXXON, and, in 1979, to form his own company, Mineral Systems, Inc.
Throughout his career, Dr. Weiss was active in the SME/AIME. He became SME President in 1981. From 1993 until his death in 1998, Dr. Weiss served as the Executive Director of AIME. He received AIME’s prestigious Daniel C. Jackling Award and the Distinguished Service Award.
Alfred Weiss was born into a mining family in Surabaja, Indonesia. His father and grandfather both worked for a Dutch exploration and development company. At the age of ten, for health reasons, he left for Holland only to become entrapped there in 1940 when Germany invaded and occupied the country during World War II. He would not be reunited with his family for seven years. He emigrated to the U. S. in 1950. He received B.S and M.S degrees in mining engineering with a minor in mineral economics from the Krumb School of Mines at Columbia University and a PhD from Pace University.