The mining industry is a dynamic, exciting and amazingly diverse sector with more than 120 occupations ranging from skilled trades to high tech professionals.

If mining is an industry you are considering a career in, have you considered what it would be like to be an Exploration Geologist in mining?


Juan-Carlos Varela a Senior Exploration Geologist currently based in Chile tells us all about his job, and what a day in the life of an Exploration Geologist would involve.

By : Juan-Carlos 

“I think most senior exploration geologists do not have the same “day” every day. It changes constantly depending on what exploration phase you are into.

By the time one is doing recon over an extensive area, your day starts with a possible long travel to that particular area. You are mapping, so the first thing you do, is to get all your ready gear, even food for a long day. It also depends on what type of deposit is on the target.

At the end, you pack your stuff and head to the field, thinking of finding the mother lode or at least, something good to be sampled. It also depends on what kind of climate your project is located. It could be on the hottest desert, the most exuberant forest or the coldest place in the world. You have to produce your maps to collect data, rock types, alteration types, mineralization types and become a natural painter.

Most companies can afford to hire field assistants and that person becomes your friend and guide, to help you learn the surrounding environment. Nevertheless, your place is on the field. Then, you step out of the truck, take a deep breath and try to figure where to begin or where to resume from last day’s visit. Back at the office, you recollect the day and organize samples and maps and if lucky, you have assays from prior samples that you can analyze along with geology, geophysics, and geochemistry and of course, your peers input. One must have knowledge of applied GIS software to help visualize data.

During a drilling program for instance, one supervises, early morning, what the night shift has found; then, do a quick breakfast, a group meeting to define objectives, including EHS, of the day and carry on with routine activities, control of rig drilling, locate and set next drill pads. Communicate with management to discuss drill targets and surface tasks.

Through the day is a constant movement and most important, interaction with drilling companies and their supervisors. Keep them aware of drilling targets, rock quality, and EHS issues. Drilling also produces quick rock loggings to report to management and maintain an open channel for possible changes in final depths. At the end of the day, a brief report is submitted to summarize the day shift and program the night shift. Sometimes, one must be prepared to stay awake for a likely night rig move from one pad to another and instruct the night controller for what is coming.

Sometimes, one must have an inevitable administrative day, where one must help with budget configurations and create procedures for the different helper’s activities, such as sampling, rig control, geotech data collection. Also produce data sheets to collect data for drilling shifts or surface sampling. Meetings are most welcome to catch up with exploration programs, whether surface or drilling ones. Sometimes, one must coach new comers, junior geologists or helpers to instruct them and pass on your tips to do a good exploration job.

But in reality, a day for a geologist will not be the same to the next one, exploration changes constantly and one must be prepared to think, input, improvise and always communicate.”


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