Retired UBC professor Peter Winterburn stabbed to death in Valparaiso, Chile

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      A former UBC professor with expertise in the discovery of new mineral deposits has died in Chile after being stabbed while fighting off two attackers.

      They were reportedly trying to steal his backpack and camera.

      According to Reuters, Peter Winterburn, 57, was killed in front of his wife and daughter around noon on June 21 in the port city of Valparaiso. 

      The Chilean newspaper La Tercera has stated that he and his family were living in Santiago and were visiting Valparaiso.

      The mayor of Valparaiso, Jorge Sharp Fajardo, condemned the killing, calling it "reprehensible".

      Global Affairs Canada is providing consular assistance to Winterburn's family.

      Winterburn was retired from UBC's department of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences.

      He chaired the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada–Acme Labs–Bureau Veritas Minerals Industrial research program in exploration geochemistry.

      "Dr. Winterburn took on the role of executive chairholder of the IRC following over 25 years of direct industry experience in exploration geochemistry as a global and regional geochemist with multinational corporations," the NSERC website states. "In addition, he brings to the position experience in applying practical and effective exploration geochemistry methodologies and a deep understanding of the mineral exploration environment and the complexity of exploration in covered terrains."

      The Mineral Deposit Research Unit Facebook page stated that he left UBC at the end of January 2019.

      The website included several comments from people who spoke glowingly about Winterburn as a menor, friend, and geochemist.

      "I worked very closely with Peter when he was at MRDU. He was funny, hardworking, a mentor, a friend and a great human being," declared Tarn Paul. "My heart goes out to his family in this difficult time."

      Luisa Da Silva stated that she was lucky to work with Winterburn on projects in Melanesia.

      "He was a great mentor and brilliant geo," she wrote.

      F. Bruno Delamata described him as a "wonderful friend".

      Winterburn obtained his PhD from the University of Edinburgh and was a fellow of the Association of Applied Geochemists, serving as a councillor for that organization from 2013 to 2016.

      The organization has scheduled its 29th International Applied Geochemistry Symposium in Viña del Mar, Chile, which is just seven kilometres from Valparaiso.