Dr. Maritz Rykaart 1969 – 2019

It is with deep regret and profound sadness that we share news of the sudden and untimely passing of our friend and colleague, Dr. Maritz Rykaart, on May 30, 2019.

Maritz was a global specialist in geotechnical engineering for the mining industry and a practice leader with SRK. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends, and colleagues. He will be sorely missed by us all.

 


Maritz was brought up in South Africa and obtained bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from the Rand Afrikaans University in 1991 and 1993 respectively. After working in various engineering and project management roles for Thuthuka and Wates Meiring & Barnard, he moved to Canada in 1998 to pursue his doctoral studies. Three years later, Maritz graduated with a PhD in geotechnical and geo-environmental engineering from the University of Saskatchewan. He then accepted a job with SRK Consulting (Canada) and in 2001 transferred to Vancouver, where he advanced quickly to become a principal consultant in 2006 and a practice leader in 2009.
 
Maritz was an innovative engineer who was highly respected in several fields. As a specialist in unsaturated soil mechanics, he designed and constructed soil covers for waste rock piles, tailings impoundments, and heap leach pads. This included developing a unique system for modelling heap leach drain down and contributing to the design of over sixty cover systems in climate zones from arid to arctic, spanning five continents. Maritz was also a leader in the field of cold regions engineering and provided nuanced insights on the application of climate change models in design.  An early example is the precedent-setting frozen core dam he designed as part of the Doris North tailings management system in Nunavut, Canada.
 
A key contributor to many projects in northern Canada, Maritz was known for his technical competence, professionalism, and communication skills. He had a rare ability to distill complex topics into clear explanations that were easily understood by non-technical people, earning him considerable respect in the many northern communities with which he worked. Maritz authored nearly 60 publications and regularly presented technical short courses at industry conferences.
 
Apart from Maritz’s technical and communication abilities, clients appreciated his thoughtfulness, patience, and honesty.  He
 
championed each project as if it were his own to ensure it met its objectives and cleared its engineering hurdles. In difficult situations he calmly took charge, instilling confidence through his measured approach and handling of tricky interpersonal relationships.

Within SRK, Maritz provided singular leadership to the Canadian geo-environmental group, Vancouver office, and technical colleagues in other North American and global offices. He was genuinely interested in the advancement of co-workers and mentored numerous up-and-coming engineers and scientists. In addition to generously sharing his know-how, he helped novices balance their professional duties and standards of care with urgent client requests. His example and wise reasoning will help them ask the right questions and find the right answers throughout their careers. While Maritz’s frank demeanor and high standards often intimidated young staff, they soon learned that he was fair and always open to alternative views. By giving leeway to even very junior consultants—while providing backup whenever required—he encouraged them to push their boundaries and, in so doing, built their confidence. The strong team Maritz helped develop is one of his most valuable professional legacies.

Away from work, Maritz was passionate about sailing, and in 2012 he and his father travelled from Vancouver to Hawaii. His regular, humorous dispatches about their progress and the tribulations of ocean life riveted family and colleagues alike. While his boat was unfortunately destroyed during a storm last year, the reports of his adventures live on.
 
So, too, will Maritz’s influence on all who knew him, personally and professionally. He was a kind, unconditionally supportive colleague and a loving family man who was a wonderful husband and great father to his two daughters. Our thoughts and sincere condolences go out to his family.

 

SRK Asia Pacific