Through his contributions in exploration, project development and operations management as Kennecott President and Chief Executive, Günther Franz (Frank) Joklik was a significant contributor to improving the competitiveness of the U.S. mining industry. This decisive executive played a pivotal role in strengthening Kennecott as a company and consequently the local communities where it operated, the state of Utah where it was headquartered and where the Joklik family made its home, and the mining industry as a whole.
Frank Joklik successfully led the company through drastic cost reduction measures in the early 1980s and the re-opening of its Utah mining operations in 1986 after falling copper prices had forced the company to shut down operations in 1985. He championed the much-needed modernization of the Bingham Canyon operations and led the diversification of the company into major projects such as Powder River Basin coal, Diavik diamonds and Lihir Island gold.
Born in Vienna, Austria in 1928, young Frank and his family immigrated to Australia in 1938, where he grew up. He attended the University of Sydney, where he received a B.Sc. with First Class Honors and a Ph.D. in Geology. The subject of his thesis was an uncharted, sparsely inhabited region of Central Australia and his work was supported by the newly-formed Australian Geological Survey. In 1953, he came to the United States as a Fulbright Scholar at Columbia University.
His career began with Kennecott in 1954 as an exploration geologist. He was responsible for mineral projects in Canada and the United States, based first in Quebec and then at Kennecott’s headquarters in New York City. After ten years, Dr. Joklik left Kennecott and returned to Australia with AMAX Inc., where he managed the early development of the Mt. Newman iron ore deposits. With AMAX, he reached the position of Corporate Vice President before returning to Kennecott in 1974. He became President of Kennecott in 1980. Kennecott was purchased by RTZ Corp. plc. in June 1989, where he continued on after the purchase as President and Chief Executive Officer.
Dr. Joklik’s leadership in the mining industry did not end with Kennecott. In 1995, he took the position of President and CEO of MK Resources Co. The company’s primary asset was the Las Cruces copper deposit in southern Spain. He was visionary in demonstrating the viability of the Las Cruces Project and assuring its development. He then played a key role in crafting the transaction whereby MK’s parent company was able to successfully sell 70% of the project in 2005, thereby assuring the financial arrangements for its construction and start-up in 2009.
Frank Joklik received numerous awards and recognitions for his contributions to the mining sector as well as civic and charitable organizations. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and served as a director of the American Mining Congress. An avid skier, he also served from 1989 to 2002 in the leadership of the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games.
Click here to visit Dr. Joklik's oral history, which is preserved at the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley.