Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Harry Hey (1892–1960)

by Noel Kirby

This article was published:

Harry Hey (1892-1960), metallurgist and businessman, was born on 20 June 1892 at Horbury, Yorkshire, England, son of Haydn Hey, foreman dyer, and his wife Emma, née Webster. Educated at Dewsbury, Harry later travelled to New Zealand where he undertook research on dairy products. He arrived in Victoria in 1915 and was engaged as an industrial chemist at Geelong. Having joined the staff of the Electrolytic Zinc Co. of Australasia Pty Ltd in 1917, he worked as a research chemist at Risdon, Tasmania, and was then given charge of a research station in South Melbourne. At Christ Church, South Yarra, on 4 January 1919 he married Mardi Soares with Anglican rites.

During (Sir) Herbert Gepp's and H. St J. Somerset's terms as general manager, Hey supervised the company's pilot plant which was set up in Tasmania to recover zinc and lead concentrates from the ores of the Read-Rosebery mines. In 1927 he visited North America to study milling practices before designing the concentrator at Rosebery. As chief metallurgist (1927-43), Hey stimulated and aided research—carried out at the University of Melbourne under Sir David Masson—on the electro-chemical characteristics of aqueous solutions of zinc sulphate. Representing several mining companies, Hey directed (1930-39) the work of the flotation research laboratories at the university. Meanwhile, he built up a research organization at Risdon which gained an international reputation in zinc technology. Promoted technical superintendent in 1943, he helped to introduce an extensive programme for modernizing the roasting plants, with the aim of using all the sulphur content of zinc concentrate.

Hey was appointed to the board of Electrolytic Zinc in 1944; he became general manager in 1945, managing director in 1947 and chairman in 1952. He introduced a profit-sharing scheme for employees, encouraged the role played by Risdon and Rosebery in training technicians and tradesmen, won the company's support for educational institutions and presided over the expansion of Risdon to a capacity of 160,000 tons per year. A member (from 1928) of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, Hey was the first chairman (1936-39) of its Victorian branch. From 1940 to 1960 he was a member of the A.I.M.M. council (vice-president 1942, president 1943-44 and 1949). He was deputy-president of the Fifth Empire Mining and Metallurgical Congress in 1951; Essington Lewis was president. Hey was awarded the institute's medal for 1951 and elected a life member in 1955. He had been awarded the Kernot medal by the University of Melbourne in 1954.

A member of seven boards of directors, Hey chaired the Commonwealth government's Explosives and Chemicals Industry Advisory Committee and belonged to the Atomic Energy Commission's business advisory group. He published several scientific papers, one of which was the Liversidge lecture (1931) of the Royal Society of New South Wales. An enthusiastic golfer, he was captain (1952-54) and president (1959-60) of the Metropolitan Golf Club. Two days after an operation for a longstanding hernia condition, he died suddenly on 11 April 1960 in the Freemasons' Hospital, East Melbourne. Survived by his wife, daughter and son, he was cremated; his estate was sworn for probate at £90,169.

Select Bibliography

  • Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, Proceedings, Dec 1960
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 10 Mar 1947, 26 Jan 1953, 23 Feb 1955
  • Herald (Melbourne), 28 Mar 1952
  • Age (Melbourne), 3 Sept 1954, 12 Apr 1960
  • Sun News-Pictorial (Melbourne), 12, 14 Apr 1960
  • private information.

Citation details

Noel Kirby, 'Hey, Harry (1892–1960)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 18 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (Melbourne University Press), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


20 June, 1892
Horbury, Yorkshire, England


11 April, 1960 (aged 67)
East Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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