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Beware of Geologists Retort

 

By E. Grayme Anthony   Printer Friendly Version

December 21, 2004

   

First, a bit on my own background, to provide you a frame of reference from which to assess my counter-comments to Mr. Brent Cook’s article entitled “Beware of Geologists”. I am a geologist with a Masters in Business Administration and am President of a junior mining company. I have spent over 20 years in mineral exploration from the icy shores of the Arctic Ocean to the steamy jungles of South America and Africa. I have worked for major mining companies and for juniors. I have held positions as a geologist, project geologist, senior geologist, chief geologist, vice-president of exploration and now serve as President.

I have a much higher opinion of geologists than Mr. Cook apparently does. A Professional Geoscientist designation is earned by Canadian geologists who must meet strict standards of scientific education, hands on experience and professional ethics. Every time a geologist gives an opinion on an exploration project he or she puts his or her career and professional standing on the line.

Geologists combine some of the best attributes of human nature: the dedication to science and learning, the love of the physical challenges of working in the great outdoors, the ability to adapt to new cultures, the accommodation to co-exist amicably in isolation in small groups for extended periods of time and the versatility to be at ease whether in the board room or on an Andean mountain top. I have rarely encountered a geologist who deliberately misleads another person. Actually, I have found they tend to be overly trusting of other people.

Geology is an applied science. As such both science and interpretation are involved. A geologist gathers facts to guide him or her as to whether or not an area is worthy of exploration. A preliminary exploration program is carried out with a relatively minimal expenditure. Successive steps involving higher levels of expenditure are only carried out if the preceding step provides justification. After a series of successful exploration steps and increasing levels of expenditures a producing mine may be realized.

I would like to believe that Mr. Cook confuses the geological or exploration function with promotion. A geologist evaluates the potential of an exploration property to host economic mineralization at a given stage of exploration involving a set budget. A promoter is interested in raising funds and increasing the value of a company’s share price. These noble goals can be in direct opposition to the facts generated by the geologist. A high grade grab sample is touted by the promoter even though the sample may come from too small a target to ever become a mine. Proximity to a head frame is promoted even though the geology may be all wrong. Area plays with insignificant mineral concentrations may be funded because of proximity to new discoveries. Drills can be rushed onto properties to attract investors before preliminary work can select proper targets. New exploration methods are touted as the shortcut to finding ore deposits but these new tools may be widely applied to inappropriate targets. Investors flock to the most highly marketed stock plays and/or to the ones with the most drills turning without regard for the potential economics of the mineralization. Liquidity (high share dilution) may be favoured in the market place over potential share value.

The result of the foregoing is that exploration investment does not always flow to the best exploration projects. This is a major reason why the exploration success rate is so low. The exploration geoscientist merely executes the exploration program, ensures the integrity of the results and makes recommendations as to further work on the property. To lay blame for poor exploration success on the doorstep of geologists is to blame the arrow for the aim of the archer.

E. Grayme Anthony P. Geo., F. G. A. C., M. B. A.
December 20, 2004.

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