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Canadian J. AUSTEN BANCROFT (1882-1957) Zambian copperbelt
The name of Joe Austen Bancroft, a Canadian born in North Sydney, Cape Breton, is synonymous with the exploration and development of what is now known as the Zambian copperbelt. The exploration programme that he oversaw in then Northern Rhodesia in the 1930s was probably the most extensive scientifically-based programme seen anywhere up to that time and from it was born one of the largest copper mining provinces in the world. Bancroft pioneered the science of economic geology in the first part of the 20th century; at the time such a term would have been considered an oxymoron but now it is the driving force behind most commercial geology.
He was born in 1882 one of eight children and his father was a Methodist minister. The early part of Bancroft’s adult life, after graduating first in his class from Acadia University, Nova Scotia in 1903 and being awarded a Yale fellowship, was spent studying and then teaching geology. He joined the faculty of McGill University in Montreal in 1905 and took post-graduate courses at Leipzig University, Georgius Agricola’s alma mater, and Bonn University between 1908 and 1910.