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Fact Sheet
Production Geologist

For a geologist, the earth speaks. A geologist is the person who determines whether the soil contains a resource, and for how long it can be mined. A geologist can also manage a mining operation.

From prospecting to industrial operations, the geologist’s areas of action are many and varied.

WHAT DOES THIS PERSON DO?

Terms of reference: survey, analyse, model and manage
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A geologist must be thoroughly familiar with the land to be developed. In order to see into the land’s future, the geologist creates geological models of its various deposits. These models require mapping out the terrain, carrying out drilling campaigns, and analysing core samples. The data is collected and shaped into models used for predicting mining potential. There is one branch of geology, commonly known as production geology, whose purpose is to guide and manage resource development – a mining operation in our case – in real-time.

Unlocking the Secrets of the Earth
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Out in the field, the geologist collects rock fragments and soil samples and drills into the ground to find ore deposits. Relying on these various indicators, the geologist draws up a geological scenario. Back in the laboratory, this data is analysed, and the assumptions made in the field are tested. Everything is a clue that helps to determine nickel content and the location of a mine operation. Today, geologists are able to mine the data dynamically. This is the aspect of geology referred to as production geology. New data is collected daily, enabling geologists to monitor a deposit’s characteristics in real-time and, consequently, modify the geological model almost immediately. To this dynamic aspect of production are added a mine’s economic realities. For example, the production geologist is able to make predictions about the rock’s ability to be transformed into ore, based on the situation and how the rock would be mined. In addition, and to ensure that the mineral economics remain competitive, the geologist is able to train operators to mine the ore without degrading it.

Specialties that dig deeply
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A geologist has many specialties. Among those sought for in the mining industry, we note: geophysics (relates to the nature and internal structure of the Earth), mineralogy (relates to the nature of mineralised rocks), sedimentology (relates to the formation of various rock strata), hydrogeology (relates to groundwater), geotechnology (relates to the mechanical characteristics of rocks and soil), and mining geology.

What are the essential qualities?

A good head...
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A solid scientific education is not enough to succeed in this profession. A geologist also has to be fluent in English, if not in a third language, in order to analyse technical data and make sense of it. Rigour, accuracy and a good interpersonal skills are other essential qualities. And this high-tech expert must also write reports, direct studies, and interact with numerous and different stakeholders.

And a good set of legs...
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To be out and about on the mine sites, good physical fitness is indispensable. A geologist has to be able to take action regardless of the weather and type of terrain.

And IT proficiency
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Mapping and geomatics software (geographic information systems), simulation software, and 2D or 3D modelling software: all are indispensable tools that a geologist uses skilfully to record, map and model the observations made in the field.

Educational requirements

A bac +5 diploma is needed to become a geologist. However, it is possible to work one’s way up, from technician to senior technician, and acquire the experience needed to become a professional geologist.

Bac + 5

Two paths are possible: engineering school or a university masters program.

• Engineering school
After two preparatory years at the major schools, it is preferable to compete for entrance into the École des Mines de Paris, EOST (Université de Strasbourg) or the Institut Polytechnique LaSalle Beauvais.

• University
After completing a licence in earth sciences, geosciences or the environment, it is necessary to enrol in a masters program in the same fields, but with a specialty in geology and/or applied geology.

Note:

Preparatory programs can be taken in New Caledonia, at Lycée Jules Garnier.

The Université de Nouvelle-Calédonie catalogue offers:

• A DEUST in applied geosciences (mining, water and environment) (http://www.univ-nc.nc/formation/catalogue-des-formations/deust-geosciences-appliquees-mines--eau-et-environnement)

• A bachelor's degree in life, earth and environment sciences ( http://www.univ-nc.nc/formation/catalogue-des-formations/licence-sciences-de-la-vie--de-la-terre-et-de-l-environnement )

After a few years of field experience as a technician and senior technician in geology, it is possible to return to university or engineering school.

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