SME President's Page

Ron Parratt

As many of you know (I hope) I have spent my career searching for gold as an exploration geologist. I have worked as a geologist and then as a manager of teams of geologists searching for gold and silver in North America and in several countries in Latin America for more than 40 years. The exploration business is fascinating, challenging and, once in a while, it can be rewarding. Success in finding a previously unknown large gold deposit is a thrill for those involved but not one that all exploration geologist get to experience. Once you have experienced that thrill of a discovery, you don’t forget it and you want to experience it again.

Each deposit is unique, and the knowledge gained in solving one puzzle while making a discovery doesn’t necessarily give you the key to success for others. Along the way, geologists learn and apply the lessons learned in to the next search. Geologists spend years in college, as do other professionals, gaining fundamental geologic knowledge about the common rock forming minerals and the various types of rocks, geologic structural features like faults and folds. If economic geology is their pursuit, they also learn about the general characteristics of various ore deposit models including their geochemical associations, alteration mineralogy, possible geophysical responses and common host rocks.

As one begins to apply their skills as an exploration geologist, it becomes clear that things can be a bit confusing and not as clear as one would have hoped. As in any career, however, you begin to accumulate additional knowledge and experience in your ability in differentiating various sedimentary rocks, recognizing the differences between various igneous rocks, deciphering metamorphic rocks, gathering field structural data and much more. For an exploration geologist, the learning never really ends, and knowledge comes in part from these experiences as well as from additional sources. One good source of knowledge is by attending mining conferences and listening to the presentations of others experienced in ore deposits. Another is by taking geologic field trips in mining districts with other geologists who have spent years in the area and understand the geologic complexities of the area. And never turn down the chance to visit an operating mine where you get to stand in the middle of an ore deposit, especially if it is the same type of ore that you are searching for. All of these can accelerate your learning and maybe accelerate your chances of finding a discovery as well.

Economic geology programming at the MINEXCHANGE SME Annual Conference & Expo can be a great place to experience much of the above. Geology programming occurs within the Mining & Exploration Division. Every year, there are very good geology sessions presented at the conference, discussing several appropriate topics. Of late, however, the sessions have been light on exploration-related economic geology. During my time as President, I intend to work toward a sustained increase in the economic geology programming component of the annual conference, with dedicated sessions including field trips and mine tours when possible. I think it’s correct to say that the number of exploration/economic geologists attending the annual conference and who are active in the society has diminished over the past few years. I would hope that an increase in opportunities to learn would help change that. After all, the “E” in SME is for exploration.

I very much look forward to serving the next year as your President. Along with this opportunity, I hope to engage the Society in moving the Strategic Plan forward and to bring more programming to all members. n