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During a 45-year career in mining, Albert Koffman’s efforts led to the discovery of 13 base metal mines including the discovery and development of a new mining district in Manitoba. This remarkable record was due to an exploration technique Koffman developed that became known as “saturation prospecting,” now in use around the world as standard operating procedure. Essentially, the method involves conducting an airborne electromagnetic survey followed by surface geophysical surveys and saturation drilling of most of the anomalies detected.
Koffman was born on a farm near Stony Mountain, Man., in 1910. Following graduation from high school, he attended the University of Manitoba and graduated in 1931 with a B.Sc., majoring in geology. The next three years were spent at university where he was a senior demonstrator in physics, did some postgraduate work and graduated from the school of education.
Canada in 1934 was in the midst of the Great Depression, but Koffman managed to get a job as a sampler in the Flin Flon mine. He spent the next 30 years working for Hudson Bay Mining & Smelting in Flin Flon. During the period, he worked as an underground sampler, field geologist doing surface mapping, chief underground geologist and chief geologist.
It was during his years as chief geologist for Hudson Bay during the 1950s and early 1960s that Koffman pioneered the system of saturation prospecting or saturation geophysics. The process enabled Hudson Bay to expand its mining operations beyond the Flin Flon mine, opening the Snow Lake base metal camp and a number of other mines along the Flon Flon-Snow Lake greenstone belt. Thirteen of the base metal deposits discovered became producing mines and have made significant contributions to the economy of Manitoba. The Chisel Lake mine which began production in 1960 is still producing today while the Namew Lake nickel mine, which opened in 1988, is the latest example of a discovery made through the use of Koffman’s exploration technique.
In 1964, he left Hudson Bay to work as a consulting geologist spending half of his time as manager for a division of Noranda Mines. In 1971, he accepted a position with the Manitoba government as president of Manitoba Mineral Resources, at the time a new provincial Crown corporation involved in mining and exploration.
The success enjoyed by Koffman can be attributed to the advocacy and use of modern scientific geophysical methods and the training and motivation of young geologists. The system of saturation geophysics which he pioneered is now in use around the world and many of the young geologists he trained are in responsible mining and exploration positions throughout Canada.
Koffman died in 1983.