Newsletter: 2014, June

Crap in, Crap out

Welcome to RSC’s June Newsletter!

We all spend a big part of our lives working. Young and naïve as I was when I finished my degree, I thought that I was going to be out in the field, bashing rocks and mapping. Nice: physical, one with nature. All that stuff. As I now stare out of the window of my otherwise comfortable office, bum imprint well embossed in my chair, little could be further from the truth.

Much of the work in this industry gets done from behind a desk. True, it’s about the choices you make but we all want to be home and spend time with families and sacrifices need to be made. That’s to talk about for another time altogether, but what it did for me is it screwed my back up.

I’ve never had a good back, being 6 foot 8 tall, but endless 14-hour computer days to meet deadlines is not healthy for anyone. Studies have shown you’re to die early if you don’t get up from that chair….a sobering thought!

I recently travelled to Ghana for some consulting on a gold mine. I was well looked after and the flight had all its perks and comforts but still you tend to arrive rather knackered and sore.

After long flights I have been getting into the habit of getting a good bashing of my back to get some of the knots out and get the blood flowing again. Recent visits to Turkey and other paces in Asia, where they know how to massage your back decently, got me hooked on the benefits.

So before I commit to the crappy desk chair on the mine site for the next two weeks, the one that would vigorously defend the embossment of the previous owner’s bum, I ask around if there is a local person who could take care of me.

I’ve never really done this in Africa but hey, give everything a go! Now, Konongo is not a small place and they certainly sell all sorts of funny things, surely a massage is not a strange request?

Coming back to the bungalow after the first weary 10 hours in the mine office, I find a van dutifully waiting outside. Out climbs an energetic young man who introduces himself as Doctor Somebody. His helper starts offloading this monstrous machine, laptop, printer and a whole bunch of paper. Already I am smiling. A lot gets lost in translation in these places but I already know for sure this is one to remember.

The good doctor starts briefing me. The process takes 20 minutes. He is a “wellbeing” doctor. He tunes people, helps them live more healthily. Meanwhile the helper realises that the machine’s plugs don’t match the wall sockets and some panic erupts. Finally plugged in with the usual pyramid of African and overseas’ electricity adaptors, I am guided onto the machine. This machine is guaranteed to fix my back I am told. Twenty minutes later of heavy vibrations and shaking, I roll off, itching all over, nerve ends stimulated to the max. Not particularly relaxing but strangely, the pressure in my back does feel oddly less.

Next I am asked to grab a small metal sensor stick, which is connected to a box through a long wire, the box connected in turn to the laptop, in turn connected to the printer. I am told to hold onto it for a good minute. The laptop screen starts buzzing, printer starts spitting out paper. One minute later I am looking at a full report on my health, a whole 23 pages long. That magical stick has told me everything from any lead poisoning in my blood, to the functioning of my kidneys and whether I smoke or not. Wow, what a machine!

Guided by this paperwork, the doctor takes the next 30 minutes to explain in detail what is wrong with me and how he can help me (apparently, I should stop smoking and my health isn’t good, never mind the 120 km I try to run each month and my revulsion of anything tobacco). The first thing to be done is for him to come back tomorrow (of course) and make me a special fruit juice. Oh, and get back on the shaking machine of course.

Finding it difficult not to break the young doctor’s heart, I shake his hand goodbye and promise to meet tomorrow (he is such a nice guy, and so delightfully entrepreneurial too). I just need to collect my thoughts (brain still shaking, back still sore).

The next morning he comes back, helper and funny machines in tow. I sit him down and explain in all kindness that what I think he is doing is great (I mean he’s making people live more healthily by preparing them a fruit juice, who can argue with that!) but that I don’t really believe in the machine’s output. I try to convince him with facts that nothing about the input data can possibly lead to good output data and I quickly realise that the “doctor” was using his title quite loosely. My quick google the night before shows the machine is of Chinese manufacture and judging from several websites the markets for this machine are not the places I frequent.

That day I thought had a good analogy for the local mining team. In our training course on sampling and resource modelling I give them the example of the machine I was strapped to: if you put crap in….you will get crap out. Now I was quite pleased with my message and analogy with the process of resource modelling that day but I am not sure if the entire team didn’t ring the doctor up that night to get a free consultation instead of re-visiting their RC sampling SOP.

Update on geology employment

After a pretty mediocre April, May saw some good numbers and on all accounts it looks like the steady climb back out of the big dip is continuing.

We’ve been getting quite a bit of feedback on these stats and figures and we want to emphasise that the fact that we think things are going better doesn’t mean there are thousands of jobs available for geologists. On the contrary, it still looks pretty grim, and employment in Australia has been flat to almost declining. It just states, relatively, whether jobs are being added or lost. There is a lot of noise in this kind of data. For instance, recruiters will empty out their advert packages at the end of the month before they expire and that will show a spike. Some companies or recruiters will post on a few sites simultaneously and we can’t differentiate between them. But as those jobs expire again, either the total tally is up or down and that is what we’re interested in.

So, it looks like things are better than in September last year: which is still pretty bad, but at least it’s a hell of a lot better than December-March this year.

What we have been up to

We’ve been very busy getting a large exploration project for the Rwandan government on the road, and we’re excited to add value to the resource potential this great country has to offer. Meanwhile, we’re working with another consultant group to assist with an exploration project in Saudi, we’re working on several gold resources (alluvial and hard rock) in New Zealand and continue to assist Chatham Rock Phosphate in their quest to be the first to mine at 350m below the surface of the ocean. We’ve just returned from a few weeks of exploration for ironsands for a group in New Zealand, and are helping out Evolution with exploration work at Pajingo. For something different we’ve been flying timber and PVC pipes out of a national park by helicopter as we remediate some old drill sites for a client.

We’ve also engaged several qualified agents who are getting the word on our services out in their respective regions. Welcome aboard to all and we look forward to a long and exciting relationship.

Time goes fast, watch your back. No seriously, watch it.

So what does RSC do?

RSC provides geological consulting and contracting services with a difference. One of our main aims is to add technical value to our clients’ programmes and act with the same amount of ownership and passion as employees.

We have access to specialists all around the world, with experience in all commodities and all stages from exploration to production. We make sure our professionals have excellent support and come with all the tools, hardware and software necessary to efficiently hit the ground running. We invest in training our geologists to make sure they add value from day one whether they are conducting a resource evaluation, logging core on an underground rig or looking after an exploration programme from A to Z.

We understand of course that we are not the only ones offering these kind of services. RSC feels strongly that its clients shouldn’t have to pay higher than normal rates for a contractor and at the same time have to educate and kit them up as well, something that we hear only too often!

Our rates are very reasonable. We have never positioned ourselves to “milk” the market as much as possible by charging excessive rates, but we grow on sustainable relationships built on quality and trust.

RSC operates worldwide and provides consulting, exploration and geological services for junior explorers as well as for bigger companies such as Barrick. For more information see or just give us a call. Don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook.

We would value the opportunity to discuss in how we could be of benefit to your team and project goals.

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