Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Prof. Laxman ("Lucky") Amaratunga 1943-2016

Sad news in today from Canada of Lucky Amaratunga, who passed away at home in Sudbury on the morning of May 16th.
 Lucky graduated from the Camborne School of Mines in 1974, the year that I commenced my duties as a lecturer, so we missed each other by a few months. I first met him and his wife Nandanie ("Nan") at Minerals Engineering '91 in Singapore (posting of 20th February 2011), and was immediately captured by his enthusiasm and friendliness, and his infectious cheerfulness.
Lucky (right) with CSM alumni and staff in Singapore, 1991
We kept in touch ever since, and the last time I saw him was at the MetSoc Conference of Metallurgists in 2011, where I attended a luncheon celebrating his life (posting of 5th October 2011). In 2005 Lucky was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which forced him to use a motorised wheel chair for mobility. He refused to be defeated by the handicap and at that time was carrying on with his full teaching load and research.
With Lucky and Laurentian colleague Louis Mercier in Montreal, 2011
Laxman ("Lucky") Mahendra Amaratunga was born in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, on April 8th, 1943 and graduated in Physical Science at the University of Ceylon in 1969. He and his wife Nan then moved to the UK where he graduated at the Camborne School of Mines in 1974 with a first class honours degree in Mining Engineering. He then moved to the University of Birmingham where he obtained a PhD in mineral procesing in 1978. He then became a research fellow at Birmingham from 1978 to 1980, after which he and Nan emigrated to Canada, where he was a research associate at the University of Toronto. In 1984 he joined Laurentian University and became a full professor in 1993.
He was an active member of CIM and in 1997 was awarded the prestigious CIM Fellowship for his outstanding contributions to the CIM and CMP, and was awarded the CIM Distinguished Lecturer for 1999-2000. In 2012 he was the recipient of the Canadian Mineral Processors’ Lifetime Achievement Award, a recognition of his demonstrated excellence in the science of mineral beneficiation and ongoing contribution to the CMP.
Lucky's full and productive life and career have made him a role model for the young students and researchers who will follow him in the years to come. On behalf of MEI I would like to express my sincere condolences to Nan and their daughter Amanda and son Ruwan, and I would like to invite all the many people who knew Lucky to share their memories on this posting.
Twitter @barrywills


  1. Sad news indeed. Lucky was one of those students you always remember. As well as being very intelligent and extremely hard working he was always cheerful and full of fun. After he graduated I met him a few times including the 1991 Conference you have the photo from and I watched his career develop. It is a fitting tribute to his life and work that he has received the International awards. Please pass my condolences on to his family.
    Keith Atkinson, Cornwall, UK

  2. Very sad news - a warm passionate person who stood tall in Canadian metallurgy
    Steven Williams, Pasinex Resources Ltd, Canada

  3. I was sorry to learn the sad news about Lucky. I find I can remember the students we taught in those early days far more clearly than those of a later vintage and Lucky therefore remains a vivid character in my mind’s eye. Its good that you kept in touch all those years. Please tell his family that I remember him with affection.
    Richard Edwards, Malvern, UK

  4. Barry, sorry to hear the news. Lucky was a good friend. Fathi Habashi

  5. I first met Prof Lucky and his lovely wife almost ten years ago when they visited the JKMRC. An insightful and a well articulated professional! My condolences to his family.
    Rajiv Chandramohan, Ausenco, Australia

  6. Lucky and I were batch-mates in Peradeniya. After graduating in 1969 we went on our separate ways and it was only in 1974 when our paths crossed again in England. I visited him and Nandani a few times in Birmingham where their hospitality and warmth still moisten my eyes. The last time we met were at the University of Toronto where Lucky had just started as a Research Associate in metallurgy. Of course we were not in contact since then, but I was aware and very proud of his outstanding professional achievements in metallurgy. That he was suffering from a debilitating illness I knew, but exactly what it was I came to know only today. Only a few Sri Lankans achieved the heights he managed in the field we shared. The courage and bravery he displayed over the last ten years has to be legendary. What I remember most vividly about him was his sincerity,openness and the radiance of his smile whenever we met. May I offer my condolences to his lovely wife and children. May he attain Nibbana. Mali Maliyasena, Canberra, Australia

  7. Very sorry to hear of Lucky’s passing. Like many in Canada I got to know Lucky from his tireless promotion of student activities through the CMP. He championed the CMP Student Essay prize, arranging the evaluation team, and following up with numerous emails to us laggard professors. For that and his other contributions to education the mineral processing community owes Lucky a big thanks.
    James A. Finch, McGill University, Canada

  8. A real man, a father, a husband, a mentor, a great professor, and an overall lovable man! I will miss you Lucky. Xoxo
    Renee Barrette, Hatch, Canada

  9. Truly saddening news, amazing professor and dear friend, I always looked forward to seeing him every year at the CMP.
    Erin Legault-Seguin, SGS Minerals Services, Canada

  10. Truly a sad news of Lucky passing away a lovable man of great Enthusiasm.

  11. You are the best of the profs I had...your legacy lives on in us!!
    Onkgopotse Busanang, Tati Nickel Mining Co., Botswana

  12. One of the nicest and most positive people I have had the good fortune to know! My deepest sympathies to his family.
    Brian Flintoff, Consultant, Canada

  13. Rest in Peace Lucky.
    Dave Middleditch, Blue Coast

  14. Many years ago METSOC held its annual meeting in Sudbury. I was scheduled to give a presentation on some of our work on column flotation. Sadly a couple of weeks prior to the conference I ruptured one of my achilles tendons and was on crutches. I contacted Lucky as one of the conference organizers suggesting that in my current state it would not be possible to attend. Lucky replied, Mike, not a problem. We will make arrangements to accommodate your condition with transport and a suitable room at the conference hotel. He was as good as his word, kindness as ever. I was so pleased to have been able to attend, as it was my last opportunity to chat with Keith Brimacombe during the meeting. Keith passed away towards the end of that year. We had been close friends dating from our student days at Imperial College.
    Lucky will be missed. His passing marks one more loss of the old guard. Mike Fairweather, Christina Lake, B.C.


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