Dan Kappes came to Reno in 1970. During the next couple of years he was working on his mas-ter's degree in mining engineering from Mackay, and also he and lo-cal exploration geologist Bruce Miller formed Miller Kappes Company with the idea of mining and processing zinc oxide ores. The Dean of Mackay at that time, Art Baker, agreed to let them use a corner of the met lab in return for Dan's becoming a Teaching Assis-tant in the met department. Many local Precambrian geologists (referring to their age, not their specialty) remember that those were interesting times. The gradu-ate school contingent in the early 1970's was mostly geologists and Dan became part of the group, although always denying responsi-bility for their most socially extreme activities.
Heap leaching of gold had just been “invented”, and Dan and Bruce were partially funding the company with consulting work. The company evolved from early heap leach consulting projects into a metallurgical consulting firm. Mike Cassiday (a metallurgical engineer from Mackay) took over Bruce's interest in 1976. Since then it has been Kappes, Cassiday & Associates.
Dan was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, where mining does not exist. But there were plenty of fossils so he became interested in geology and set his sights on the Colorado School of Mines. Once there, the lure of explosives caused him to change options and he received an Engineer of Mines degree in 1966. Prior to coming to Nevada he worked as a min-ing engineer at underground mines in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Oklahoma and California. Although his master's degree is also in mining engineering, he describes himself as a metallurgist with a strong mining and geological inclination. He is a registered Professional Mining and Metallurgical Engineer in Nevada, and was named Alumnus of the Year at Mackay in 1995.
Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (www.kcareno.com) pioneered many of the techniques now employed in heap leaching, and for the past several years has expanded into the design of agitated leach plants and other metallurgical processes. The firm employs 70 people in Reno, 13 in Chihuahua, Mexico, and two in Perth, Australia. It generally begins working on a project during the exploration phase with lab testing, continues through engineering and financial studies, and often continues the process with a full contract to build and start up the production facilities.
Although the company works around the world, Dan likes Reno as a base because KCA's introduction to projects is usu-ally via exploration personnel, and Reno probably has the world's highest concentration of gold exploration activity. While Dan is not planning to retire in the near future, he wouldn't mind slowing down and he is bit perplexed that the lofty precious metals prices make it very difficult to do so.
A Mineral collection trip to the the Silver Bell Mine, near Gleeson, Arizona in about 1977 with friends Tom Hughes and Tony Potucek
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Company Kappes, Cassiday & Associates