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Today was a perfect summer day in Vancouver; although it is still officially winter.  I slept late in the sun streaming through the bedroom windows.  I rode my bicycle to and from work in the warmth of the sun, although it was a trifle cold coming home as, short of breath, I walked the hills that become steeper every year.

I did no work of note:  answer emails, chat with colleagues, edit an upcoming EduMine course presentation.  Nothing of intellectual challenge or worth.  Just what you would do on a lazy, sunny day.

I am lucky; for what does it matter if I work or do not work?   Nobody cares for my opinion, except when I tell the truth—when they get bent out of shape.  The bank manager has more of my money invested than I can touch—all I need to do is get him to support me in idleness.  I have decided to stop smoking–except my pipe–for that will save me money and make me better able to ride my bike this summer, which I intend to do until I am lean & mean like those old farts at Granville Island who are far older, skinnier, and fitter than me.

Yet my heart today could not shake off a conversation I had with a young engineer let go last week as his company is contracting as commodity prices fall.  He has three children, has just bought a new house, and is now without a job.

He has been my client.  I have done work for him.  He is a good engineer: he asks the right questions; he demands the appropriate answers; he uses my advice prudently; he advances the cause of his employer.  It was a pleasure and an honor to work for him.  I learnt and he learnt and we advance the state-of-the-art.  Yet he is laid off.  My heart bleeds for him, for I have been in this situation.

In 1983 the mining industry collapsed.  As manager SRK Vancouver, I laid off twenty, including myself and Andy Robertson.  It is a long story how we survived; but we did.

In the mid 1990s, I was told to leave a site because I challenged the incumbent privileges.  The project eventually did what I told them was the thing to do.  But only after firing me and two others.

I lost my drive some ten years ago when my then-wife of 34 years eloped with a very rich man (five cars, a private plane, monthly trips to Vegas, and lodges in Africa).  I lost my drive and care to help clients.  So I “retired” and spent years riding my bike, watching opera, and writing EduMine courses.

The point is that I have “lost” my job at least three times.  It happens in life and in mining, no less than in other walks of life.  I have survived: brushed off the dust, stood up, and moved on.  Yet still my heart bleeds for the young man with three children, a new house, and no job.  He is a good engineer and will, I trust, survive.  But what anguish and struggle until then.

Me and the young engineer I write of are but a very few examples of many more who are affected by the ups and downs of mining.  Our stories are never told as individuals.  We are but statistics for journalists.  Yet our pain and struggle is real and wrenching.  So pause if you can to help one of those laid of in the mass waves of layoffs in the current mining downturn.

 

 

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EduMine has just posted at this link, a Spanish version of our (Bernard Brixel and my) course Introduction to Groundwater Modelling for Mines & Mining.

The English version has proven popular since it was first posted in 2013.  Now it will be easy for Spanish speakers to also do the course.

I must thank AngloGold Ashanti for sponsoring the translation.  We all owe them a vote of confidence.  For they support continuing education.

This course joins my other, associated course in English and Spanish on Groundwater in Mining.  Translation of that course was sponsored by Goldcorp.  Thanks too to them.

If you do the course, and see room for improvement, please let me know.

And keep in mind the other two courses on EduMine on groundwater modeling:

Groundwater Modeling for Mining 1 – Model Conceptualization.

Groundwater Modeling for Mining 2 –  Numerical Modeling

Bernard and my two courses and their Spanish translations are introductory–they will lead you into the topics so that you can plan, manage, review, and at the first cut, deal with groundwater in mining.  The two noted just above by my colleagues here in Robertson Geoconsultants, are detailed and best tackled once you have some background, knowledge, experience, and practical involvement.

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He marched into my office and declared: “I am too old to consult at altitudes of 14,000 ft.” I replied: “Many wonder if you do not have a severe case of BDSM sublimated in peer review at high altitudes.” (more…)

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We grow old.  Let us live in excess and expire in a whirlwind of pleasure.  Let us go from joy to joy and die in contentment.  Let us forget the past and love each new day in the intensity of life well lived.  Let us fade into the mist of a faint fall. And recall past springs and enjoy all new springs.  For life is summer, albeit winter will come. (more…)

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I am in Guatemala and at the Tahoe Resources Escobal Silver Mine. I have previously noted that I and my daughter are the engineers who designed and now give advice on the operation of the filter-pressed tailings stack. Much credit must also go to Flor de Maria Gonzalez and Sergio Aycinena of Geosimsa who are the engineers of record in Guatemala. We have worked closely with them these past four years and both have proven sound partners. Particularly Flor who as a young woman has made her mark by her excellence in a male-dominated Guatemalan mining environment. (more…)

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It is no secret that I make money off mining.  I work as a part-time civil engineer with a consulting practice that works around the world.  I retired nearly ten years ago, after nearly ten years working on landfills, California earthquakes, and supporting lawyers representing big companies falling foul of law suites.  I have an LLB degree in addition to my civil degrees and was able to use this knowledge to translate technical and engineering issues into winning legal arguments. (more…)

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Decision making in engineering demands a logical process that is well documented.  Particularly if you are selecting a new site for a mine waste disposal facility.In 1983,  Andy Robertson and I wrote a paper available at this link on site selection.  The ideas were based on what we did to locate the site of the tailings facility for the then new Greens Creek mine.  The site was selected and is still in use. (more…)

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