Wayne Colby Hazen was instrumental in developing and solving many significant processes and problems during a useful and inventive career in mineral processing. In 1961, he founded Hazen Research, Inc. of Golden, Colorado, where, for the next 22 years, he served as President and CEO and grew the company from a one-building laboratory to the largest private metallurgical and processing R&D contractor in the United States. Hazen Research’s process development work has solved problems involving most base metals, as well as molybdenum, uranium, gold, coal, industrial minerals, rare earths, and hazardous wastes. Such work has employed the whole spectrum of unit processes from flotation, leaching, and solvent extraction to pressure oxidation and roasting. Wayne’s philosophy was to attract the most competent engineers he could find with practical experience, dedication to solving problems, and insistence on an uncompromising standard of quality.
In about 1965, Hazen embarked on a development project that was to eventually have a significant impact on world copper production and the mining industry. Maxie Anderson, the founder and CEO of Ranchers Exploration and Development Corp., was operating the Bluebird copper oxide mine near Miami, Arizona, and wanted to find a way to make cathode copper directly from heap leach liquors, rather than by using iron precipitation followed by sending the low-grade “cement” copper that was produced to a smelter. From Wayne’s experience in uranium extraction, Hazen Research devised and tested a system that would use solvent extraction to enrich these weak acidic copper solutions, which could then be pumped to electro-winning cells for the production of metallic copper. The quality of such “electro-won” copper would eventually reach commercial electrolytic grade. Once this system was up and running at Bluebird, it proved to be a great success and attracted considerable industry attention. The “SX-EW” process is now widely applied to produce copper from ores amenable to acid leaching and may rank with cyanidation and flotation as one of the most important developments in the history of extractive metallurgy.
Wayne Hazen received a BS in Chemistry from the University of California in 1940. Upon graduation, he joined Pan American Engineering Company, where he developed a manganese recovery process that led to his being made technical superintendent of a new manganese mill. Subsequently, he was employed at the Mineral Division of Battelle Memorial Institute, the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, and Kerr-McGee. During this time, Wayne did research and development projects in taconite flotation and plutonium production and directed research programs in uranium, vanadium, and potash. At Los Alamos he designed and built the facility for producing plutonium metal for atomic weapons. He was responsible for the design, construction, and initial operation of a vanadium and uranium production plant at Shiprock, New Mexico, and after operating a pilot plant for uranium leaching and solvent extraction, he participated in the design of the Kermac Uranium mill at Ambrosia Lake, New Mexico. During his career Wayne Hazen published some 15 technical papers and was issued 31 U.S. patents.
Click here to visit Wayne's oral history, which is preserved at the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley.