Dr Oskar Steffen, one of the three founders of SRK Consulting, has passed away the global engineering firm said in an announcement on Thursday.   

Steffen, who was 77 years old at the time of his passing, has enjoyed a long, successful career in the engineering and sciences sector.

In 1973 Steffen joined Andy Robertson and Hendrik Kirsten to establish Steffen, Robertson and Kirsten, the company known today as SRK.

“Over the following decades, Steffen’s recognition and profile as a top-drawer consultant went from strength to strength, significantly contributing to SRK becoming a premium brand in the industry,” the firm said.

A notable repertoire of skills

Steffen’s  consulting activities included: open pit planning and design; rock and soil slope stability analysis and design for road and rail cuttings and open pit and strip mines; and general surface mining geotechnics, including tailings dam investigation and design.

“His innovation and discovery activities included developing frameworks for pit optimisation, strategic mine planning, and the application of probability techniques in geotechnical engineering, particularly regarding risk analysis of slope failure in open pit stability investigations,” the firm added.

An inspiration

Steffen served as President of the South African Institution of Mining and Metallurgy from 1989 to 1990 and was awarded the Brigadier Stokes Memorial Award in 1995, the SAICE Geotechnical Gold Medal in 2001 and the Mining Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010 in recognition of his technical contribution to the international mining industry.

“Oskar was very much the statesman and “spiritual leader” in the new practice, and his personal values had an outsize influence on the culture that evolved. His strategic approach also promoted SRK’s expansion into a wide range of engineering and scientific disciplines.”

“Today, the company is a global group of practices, driven and owned by the kind of professionals that leaders like Steffen encouraged and inspired,” it concluded.