Prof. Wagner graduated at the Mining University of Leoben in 1963. He obtained his PhD in mining engineering at the same institution in 1968. From 1969 to 1994 he worked for the Chamber of Mines in South Africa in a variety of positions. Amongst others his positions included:
- Chief Strata Control Division -Research Organisation(1973-1977)
- Director Coal Mining Laboratory - Research Organisation(1978-1984)
- Director Mining Operations Laboratoy- Research Organisation(1977-1984)
- Deputy Director General and Director General Research Organisation(1984-1988) and Research Adviser to the South African mining industry
- Senior General Manager( Operations) –Chamber of Mines(1988-1994)
In 1994 Prof. Wagner took up the position of Professor of Mining Engineering and Head of Department of Mining Engineering and Mineral Economics at the University of Leoben. In 2007 he retired from active service at the University of Leoben. As emeritus professor in mining he is still actively involved in teaching and research.
He is a former President of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (1986/87) a former Vice President of the International Society of Rock Mechanics (1983/87), a former President of the Austrian Society of Mining Engineers (1999/2003) and a full member of the Austrian Academy of Science (2000) and an Honorary member of the Hungarian Academy of Science (2004).
He served on the Research Advisory Council of the Prime Minister of South Africa. He represented the South African and the Austrian mining industries on a variety of international bodies.
He served on the Australian Research Council (ARC) as expert evaluator in the mining area and was a member of the expert evaluator panel for FP7-NMP-2011- LARGE-5 projects under the theme4, NMP.
Prof. Wagner has carried out a numerous assignments for the South African mining industry in the fields of mine safety, mining technology and environment. He is Deputy Chairman of Supervisory Board of the Erzberg mine and has worked on the formulation of industry policies in the fields of mining research, mine safety and mining environment.
He has advised the Austrian Government on matters of mining legislation and mining policy and has been involved in safety related projects and investigations on behalf of the Austrian mining authority and the Swiss government. He was coordinator of an international research team examining minerals planning policies in Europe for the DG Enterprise of the EU in Brussels.
Prof. Wagner has published more than 250 scientific and technical papers and several books or chapters of text books in the field of mining engineering and rock mechanics.