Walter L. Pohl
Prof. Emeritus, PhD (Vienna), Fellow of The African Geological Society, Fellow of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM), Member of the IOM3/Institution of Mining and Metallurgy (U.K.), Society of Economic Geologists (SEG), the Geological Society of America (GSA), the Society of Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits (SGA) and Corresponding Member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.
Aspirations for outdoors work and adventure determined me to study geology, petrology, mineralogy and palaeontology at the University of Vienna (1959-64). Thereafter, meeting my wishes to work in industry, Profs. W.E. Petrascheck (Economic Geology) and E. Clar (Engineering Geology) entrusted me with a challenging doctoral research subject: the geological survey and synthesis of an underground lignite mining district.
Immediately after the promotion (PhD 1966), Voest-Alpine Mining (a resource conglomerate in Austria) employed me for providing geological services to all their mines and quarries. In 1970, I was offered the position of Senior Geologist by VAM Ltd. for Gunpowder and Mammoth copper mines (Mt. Isa region, Queensland, Australia), followed by exploration for coal in the Bowen Basin and again copper (Texas Instruments). Called away again (1972), I joined the Geological Survey of Rwanda as an economic geologist in the team; the main task was geologically mapping tungsten and tin mines, both underground and open pit operations, structural and genetic modelling, and developing concepts for exploration. In 1974, my mentor Prof. Petrascheck recalled me as a postdoc in charge of overseas projects and related teaching at the University of Mining (Austria). This brought about that I acquired the "Habilitation" in Applied Geology (the academic qualification of autonomous teaching at university, in 1976), and an Associate Professorship in 1980. During this period, my work place was mainly Africa but projects called me to Arabia, India, Australia, the Americas and Turkey. In Kenya, for example, I led a major mapping and greenfield exploration project of extensive areas in the Tsavo (main resource: gemstones) and South Coast regions (the Mrima Hill apatite-REE carbonatite plug and Ba-Pb-Zn vein deposits).
In 1984 I accepted a full professorship of Applied Geology at the Technical University of Braunschweig (Germany). Although in 1966 already, my first job did include complex reserve estimation, geoengineering and water problems in various mines, teaching students majoring in geology, ecology and civil engineering considerably deepened my grasp of the theoretical background. Soon, I revived my work in Africa and as a frame, I established an international network within UNESCO’s International Geological Correlation Program (IGCP) with the title “Geological Evolution and Metallogeny of the Mesoproterozoic Kibara Belt, Central Africa” (1987-91). At the same time, I designed and executed research projects that integrated economic geology with engineering geology, hydrogeology and with environmental targets. This founded my skills in environmental and social reconciliation of the extraction of minerals.
In that spirit in 2007, I launched an international research project entitled “Sustainable Restitution/Recultivation of Artisanal Tantalum Mining Wasteland in Central Africa” (short title Coltan Environmental Management) and until the end of 2008, when I left Germany, acted as its coordinator. Prof. Bernd Lehmann of Clausthal University kindly took over and lead the Coltan Project team until the conclusion of the project in December 2014. I continued to be involved as a Senior Consultant (an example is a presentation accessible at the link above under http://coltan-environmental.org/Thoughts-Pohl.pdf).
Repeatedly, I was invited to deliver graduate and postgraduate courses, from exotic Algiers (Algeria), via Alpbach (Tyrol), Bujumbura (Burundi), Cardiff (Wales/U.K.), Goettingen (Germany), Graz (Austria), Guanajuato (Mexico), Nairobi (Kenya), Makerere (Uganda) to the capital of classic music and of Alpine salt mining, Salzburg (Austria). Although I am an enthusiastic academic teacher, I enjoyed a long string of consulting assignments for local and international resource companies, geological state surveys and for international organisations such as UNDP and UNESCO.
Published about 100 papers concerning various aspects of mineral deposits, the mining environment and metallogeny, and several editions of the German-language standard textbook of economic geology. When not consulting, I invested most of three years time in writing the new Economic Geology book (published in Mai 2011).
My favourite achievements apart from the books are my geological maps of the underground tin mine Rutongo in Rwanda (1978), two geological quarter degree sheets that I surveyed and published with the Geological Survey of Kenya (1979 and 1980), a seminal paper on metamorphogenic ore deposits (1992), and the discovery of new ore bodies that resulted from my consulting. Geological mapping of, for example, the volcanic architecture of the Cabo de Gata (Spain) epithermal gold district, or the underground exposures in the Asse salt mine and radioactive waste repository (Germany) with student groups are highlights not reflected in my publications list. The biggest privilege was my role in training a number of African and European PhD’s and postdocs in economic and environmental geology.
A number of research funding organisations and journals such as Arabian Journal of Geosciences, Applied Earth Science (formerly IMM Transactions B), Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology , Environmental Earth Sciences, Geochemistry/Chemie der Erde, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Geologica Belgica, International Journal of Earth Sciences, Journal of African Earth Sciences, Journal of Geochemical Exploration, Mineralium Deposita, the open access journal Minerals, Mine Water and the Environment, Mineralogy and Petrology , Ore Geology Reviews and Precambrian Research use my services as a reviewer or member of the Editorial Board. I am fairly conversant with English and French, but only a little with Spanish and Kisuaheli. German is my native language.
As a Senior Consultant in Economic Geology and plenty of experience in its ties to Mining, Geological Engineering, Water and Environmental Management, and Social Reconciliation I help to solve problems where narrow specialist wisdom is stranded.