Robert Carl Sticht

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Robert Carl Sticht (8 October 1856 – 30 April 1922) was an American metallurgist and copper mine manager, active in Colorado and Montana, U.S.A. and in Tasmania, Australia. Sticht was the developer of the first successful purely pyritic smelting in the world.[1]

Early life[edit]

Sticht was born at Hoboken, New Jersey, U.S.A., the son of German-American parents from Brooklyn,[1] his father's name was John C. Sticht.[2] Sticht studied at the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute and graduated from there with B.Sc. in 1875, then went studied metallurgy at the Clausthal Royal Mining Academy, Germany,[1] where he graduated with honours in 1880.[2]


Returning to the U.S.A., Sticht was appointed chief chemist and assistant metallurgist at a Colorado smelting company[1] and erected smelters in Colorado and Montana. In 1893, on the recommendation of the American mining expert Edward Dyer Peters, Sticht was appointed chief metallurgist to the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Co. Ltd. in Tasmania. Sticht married Marion Oak née Staige, of Illinois[1] in January 1895.[2] The newly married couple arrived in Queenstown, Tasmania around July 1895.[1]

Sticht persuaded the company to use pyritic smelting, designed and supervised the erection of the reduction works plant and in 1897 was appointed general manager of the company. His successful dealing with pyritic ores marked him out as a great metallurgist. Other difficult problems arose but each was successfully dealt with as it came, and his ability in selecting suitable assistants and heads of departments was a great factor in the continued success of the company. Although a technical success, pyritic smelting had a "horrendous cost to the environment in the destruction of a vast area of rainforest and in pollution of rivers".[3]

Sticht had a holiday tour in the United States in 1914–15; in 1917 he was again in Tasmania investigating problems in connection with the Mount Read and Rosebery ores. He died at Launceston, Tasmania, on 30 April 1922. Sticht was survived by his wife and three sons.


Sticht was a cultivated man, interested in music, art and literature.[4] The trustees of the Felton Bequest in 1923 presented his large collection of Old Master prints and drawings, and a collection of early typography and books of extraordinary value, to the public library and museum in Melbourne, now divided between the National Gallery of Victoria and the State Library of Victoria. Sticht showed his interest in the welfare of the employees of the Mount Lyell mine by the establishment of "betterment" facilities near the mine, and took a leading part in the opening of the technical school in Queenstown. Sticht's kindliness was extended to his employees, to prospectors, and all interested in the mining industry; he was devoted to his work, and the mine owed its success to his administrative powers, his resourcefulness and his great knowledge. Sticht's reputation became world-wide and the long chapter of 125 pages in the 1907 edition of The Principles of Copper Smelting,[5] by Edward Dyer Peters, owed so much to him, that the author stated that "to save constant quotation marks and references, I believe that it will be more just to ascribe this chapter, in the main, to Mr Sticht".[1]

The mineral Stichtite is named for him.[6]


Further reading[edit]