GSN

Faces of GSN

Moira Smith (Published in October 2008 GSN Newsletter)

Guess I'm what you’d call a "new kid on the block", both in terms of geography and profession. I got my start in geology when I was about six, on a trip to the southwest with my family, and through climbing the big volcanoes in the Cascades a little later on. In University (Pomona, Western Washington and Arizona), I studied structural geology and tectonics, loved mapping, and wanted to be a professor until I discovered that the job involved far too many hours writing grant proposals and grading exams. For four years after school, I worked for the British Columbia Geological Survey, and spent summers in the Coast Range, battling Devil’s Club and mossy cliffs in the interest of figuring out the tectonic setting of ore deposits large and small, for the betterment of the Crown. An invitation from friends to join a mineral exploration recon crew for the summer in interior Alaska permanently changed the direction of my career. Who could not love camping and jumping out of helicopters in the land of the midnight sun, joining generations of prospectors in the search for gold?

Armed with one season in the bush for mineral exploration experience, I was hired by Teck (now TeckCominco) in the Kamloops, BC office. Six months later, I was running a 4-drill program in the bush in Panama, and building a resource model for one of the largest copper porphyry deposits in the world (Petaquilla). I owe everyone at TeckCominco a huge debt of gratitude for trusting an inexperienced geologist with some of their best projects! Next on the slate was Pogo, a project I lived and breathed for four years, until it was delivered into the hands of the engineers. Perhaps the most exciting moment of my career was breaking into the ore zone with an underground drift, and finding that the model was correct and it was really there, as advertised! I had the pleasure of spending much of a year and a half in southern Mexico, baking in 45C heat in a small village while developing and testing a model for the 3.2 million ounce El Limon Au skarn deposit, as well as many shorter stints in northern Argentina, Peru and other far flung places. The privilege of visiting so many remote places, and getting to know and work next to some amazing colleagues and the people that live there, is another highlight of my career.

While living in Vancouver, I somehow got roped into being a director of the BC Yukon Chamber of Mines (AMEBC), on the advisory board of the MDRU, MEG speaker’s committee, President of the Mineral Deposits Division of the GAC, Roundup Committee, various SEG committees and other organizations. Clearly, saying “no” is not one of my strong points!

Another change in my career trajectory happened three years ago when, as US Manager for Teck Cominco, I visited Nevada for the first time. I was there for a property exam with Dave Caldwell - he already had me tagged for GSN officership before I even moved there! He also introduced me to Dan Harmening (yes, I met my significant other in a bar) and the rest is history. I moved to Elko two years ago, trading my small apartment in cosmopolitan Vancouver for a big house, bigger yard, man, teenager and a menagerie of pets on the edge of the Ruby Mountains. After leaving TeckCominco, partly to get away from being “management”, and a brief stint with private explorer Electrum USA Ltd. (same issue), I started with Fronteer Development Group in early 2008. It’s my dream job! I’m the “Senior Geoscientist” for Nevada, with input into our various projects and a portfolio spanning 600,000+ acres. It’s meant travel to London and Istanbul, and lot’s of detailed geological work at Long Canyon in the Pequops - look for lots of exciting news on that one this coming fall and winter!

Other hobbies include high altitude mountaineering, skiing

Moira Smith