Australian Dictionary of Biography

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George Anderson Richard (1861–1943)

by I. W. Morley

This article was published:

George Anderson Richard (1861-1943), metallurgist, was born on 20 November 1861 at Creswick, Victoria, son of Moses John Richard, splitter, and his wife Eliza, née Sullivan, both Tasmanian born. His schooling and early life are obscure. In 1881-82 he attended the Ballarat School of Mines and studied assaying, chemistry and metallurgy under the legendary Professor Mica Smith. He then probably worked on gold-chlorination plants on the Victorian goldfields before joining the Mount Morgan Gold Mining Co. Ltd, Queensland, as an engine driver.

Encouraged by Wesley Hall, who recognized his ability, Richard then worked in the company's assay office and stamp battery and became a chlorinator. By 1894 he was superintendent of treatment works and became well known for his improvements to the chlorination process with larger, better plants. At its peak it was one of the largest chlorination processors in the world. Appointed metallurgical engineer, Richard in 1901 toured Australian, North American, European and South African plants, examining copper-smelting and iron and steel processes. On 20 May 1891 he had married Ada Ellen Frances Neill.

In 1903 he was appointed general manager. His salary was believed to be the highest in Queensland. He introduced 'glory hole' mining and in 1904 copper-smelting; the rich surface oxidized ore of Mount Morgan was succeeded at depth by lower copper-gold sulphides and required smelting for metal recovery. In 1905 he introduced the first Australian-made electric winder.

Richard again visited the United States of America in 1907 to inspect copper-mines, mills, smelters and refineries. His report was responsible for the formation of the Electrolytic Refining & Smelting Co. Ltd, of which he became a director. The new company built a plant at Port Kembla, New South Wales, and at his instigation also developed a coal-mine and other mines to provide flux for copper-smelters. Richard employed many brilliant engineers from the University of Sydney and the Ballarat School of Mines. Though naturally retiring, he was a well liked, fair and approachable employer.

A family man, Richard was also interested in the Queensland militia, technical reading, education and billiards. He had joined the volunteer militia in late 1887 as provisional captain and was widely known as Captain Richard, especially after he led volunteer troops during the shearers' strike of 1891. He presided over the 1899 and 1910 meetings of the Australasian Institute of Mining Engineers at Rockhampton and Mount Morgan; in 1910 he gave an erudite presidential address, 'Statistics and economics'. He was a strong and active supporter of the Mount Morgan Technical College and advocated a centralized Queensland School of Mines.

Richard fell foul of the southern directors R. G. Casey and (Sir) Kelso King who persuaded the managing director R. S. Archer to force Richard to resign. The reasons are not clear but he had been timid in his dealings with unionists, for fear they would black-list the company. He resigned in 1912. One employee lamented that a good working place then became a place of misery. After visiting London in 1913, Richard lived quietly in Brisbane. He died in Brisbane General Hospital on 12 October 1943 and was cremated with Anglican rites. Two sons and two daughters survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • W. J. Long (compiler), The Early History of Mount Morgan, Dawson and Callide Valleys (Rockhampton, 1962)
  • G. Blainey, The Rush that Never Ended (Melb, 1969)
  • L. McDonald, Rockhampton (Brisb, 1981)
  • J. Kerr, Mount Morgan (Brisb, 1982)
  • R. L. Whitmore (ed), Eminent Queenslanders (Brisb, 1984)
  • Votes and Proceedings (Queensland), 1897, p 494
  • Parliamentary Papers (Queensland), 1911-12, 3, p 579, 738, 5277, 5292
  • Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, Transactions, 15 (1911), p 1
  • Queensland Government Mining Journal, 50, 1949, no 567
  • Bulletin, 6 June 1912
  • G. A. Richard, The Great Persian Oil Field: How Mt Morgan Men Held the Titles (typescript, 1934, State Library of Queensland)
  • private information.

Citation details

I. W. Morley, 'Richard, George Anderson (1861–1943)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 24 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (Melbourne University Press), 1988

View the front pages for Volume 11

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


20 November, 1861
Creswick, Victoria, Australia


12 October, 1943 (aged 81)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.