I’ve been working with Dalradian since 2015 and it has been a great experience. Working on a project which is one of the world’s best unmined gold deposits is challenging and exciting. As a senior resource development geologist, two major aspects of my job are to identify new gold veins within the deposit and to increase our confidence in the location of the existing modelled veins. Both of which aim to increase the life of the mine.
Drills with diamond tips are a key exploration tool for this work. When drilling takes place a team of contractors will carry out the drilling with my team supervising and managing them to ensure that all health, safety and environmental standards are being met. We receive the drill core each morning at our core shed in Omagh, where it is then logged, photographed and sampled. The samples are sent for analysis to a laboratory in Galway and the results are loaded into our 3D software, where we can then create a detailed model of where the gold veins are located under the surface.
It’s essentially like ‘joining the dots’; we have geological information from drill holes that are spaced at set intervals, say 120m. We use all of that information and knowledge from our geological training to connect a gold vein in one hole to a gold vein in another hole. There is a degree of uncertainty associated with this estimation, so we would ten aim to drill a hole in between these two to confirm the location of the vein. This process increases geological confidence so that when it comes to mining we can keep the miners on track as to where they should be directing the underground development.
An important part of the job is quality control. Rigorous procedures are in place at all stages from the drilling process to sampling and laboratory analysis, to ensure that our work meets best practice across the industry. Since 2016 we have found five new gold veins at Curraghinalt and increased the size of the deposit to 6 million ounces, making it one of the best unmined gold deposits in the world.
When people think of gold they often associate it with jewellery, but in fact there are a lot of other very important uses for it and that’s part of what makes my job so rewarding. One of the main reasons gold is so sought after is that it doesn’t corrode and its very malleable. As most people know it is used in dentistry, because it is extremely durable and can be moulded precisely to create a very smooth surface.
But of course gold is also used widely in computers, electronics and satellite communications technologies. All smartphones and televisions even contain a small amount of gold. It is an efficient conductor of electricity and it doesn’t corrode like other metals used in electrical devices. These chemical properties make gold and ideal metal to work with across a wide variety of industries. Working with such a diverse team in Dalradian on a project that could create hundreds of well-paid jobs for the local community is very rewarding. I personally feel privileged to be a part of developing a sustainable industry for West Tyrone for many generations to come.
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