Jobs: a Good Reason to Reinforce Economic Geology Teaching at
"The minerals exploration business is presently in a unique position.
Over the past few years there has probably been more money spent on minerals
exploration than at any time in the past. Furthermore, the level of activity
is more uniformly spread globally than ever before. More countries are
open for exploration than ever in the past. Consequently the opportunities
for graduates entering the business now are unprecedented." This was the
start of a keynote address given by Noel White, Chief Geologist, BHP Minerals
International Exploration, at a recent seminar at the University of Geneva.
Similar statements were made by representatives from major oil companies
regarding the work market situation in hydrocarbon exploration.
My experience confirms these views. Recent graduates of our university are finding it easier to get positions in the mineral and oil exploration industry than in other "modern fields" including environmental geology.
Strangely enough, the jobs argument is one which only rarely is brought up in academic discussion when fighting against cutbacks in classical Earth Sciences. The fact is that today European university graduates with a wide field-based practical and theoretical geological training, with critical and analytical thinking, and with a sound foundation in ore deposits have their main career opportunity in mineral exploration. Of course, the jobs will probably not be in Europe. But in a global economy, what else could be expected in a truly international industry, as mineral exploration has always been? The question is whether our universities always provide this solid basic training. In geological mapping and practical aspects at least, significant shortcomings exist. But there are also serious concerns in the field of economic geology, as in some universities it is not even possible for students to study a course on ore deposits.
The Society of Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits has, in my opinion, a responsibility to help improve this situation by (1) facilitating bridges between industry and academia (the Turku Biennial Meeting, with a very significant participation from industry, shows the right direction), (2) specifying what the basic training needs are, (3) increasing the visibility of economic geology as a modern and necessary activity, and (4) transmitting the message to education and academic authorities that well-formed exploration geologists are getting jobs and that they will also be needed by industry in the future.
All can profit: Universities from new exciting research topics on metallogeny; students from better career opportunities; industry from well-trained professionals; ...and SGA from future active members.
SGA NEWS editor, Geneva
Note: As foreseen, with this number 4, I will cease being editor of
SGA NEWS. The newsletter will continue to be edited in Geneva for two years
more under the direction of Dr. Massimo Chiaradia (who acted as coeditor
and with the support of other members of the Geneva Ore Deposits Group.
I would like to thank warmly all the authors and contributors who have
always sent (almost) on time the solicited articles and have made the editorís
task an easy one. My special thanks go to Massimo Chiaradia who, while
heavily engaged at the lead isotope laboratory, has been, from the very
beginning, instrumental in the creation and production of SGA NEWS. I wish
him great success and a lot of fun editing SGA NEWS.