James Siddorn

I am a specialist in the structural analysis of base metal, precious metal, and diamond deposits, and in applied 3D geological modeling. I work for SRK Consulting (Canada) Inc. in Toronto. SRK is a unique company as it places a high level of importance on structural geology in exploration and mining. Through working for SRK I have been able to work in Asia, Australasia, Africa, South America, North America, and Europe, working in numerous commodities in geological terranes ranging from Archean to Mesozoic (4,000 to 66.5 million years ago) in age.

My enjoyment of geology began in physical geography at school, and I was lucky to be able to take a two year (A level) course in Geology at school, where I really enjoyed geology, from the classroom right into field trips in Northern England. I gained my experience firstly through a geology degree at the University of Durham, UK. After leaving university I found a job working for an engineering consultancy in the UK. After a year of not seeing any rocks really, but working on a lot of environmental projects I decided it was time to leave the UK and look for work overseas. I ended up going to graduate school at the University of Toronto, which led me to work on two gold mines in Yellowknife, living in Yellowknife for most of the year. This in turn opened doors for me working for the Geological Survey of Canada, and then to SRK. Although I struggled at first financially, moving to Canada was a great move, and I have been very lucky in my career, especially to be supported by good people.

I am lucky in that I have a great deal of variety in my job, working on numerous computer based applications to exploration, but also having opportunity to work in the field and underground in mines. I love being able to rapidly advance exploration projects and help people. I teach a series of industry based structural geology courses that are very rewarding, and enable me to keep some ties back to teaching, although in a focused, applied format.

Q: What is the title of your job and what do you do?

A: Senior Consultant. I am a structural geologist specialising in exploration targeting for ore deposits.

Q: Who do you work for, and where are you based?

A: SRK Consulting (Canada) Ltd. Toronto, Ontario.

Q: What kind of hours/shifts do you work?

A: 40-50 hour week in office.

Q: Where do you work?

A: In the office, field, including sometimes overseas.

Q: What equipment/machinery do you use?

A: I use limited equipment, Brunton compass/clinometer, digital camera, hammer, and a GPS. I do use a laptop computer with a large amount of software.

Q: What education or training is required for your job?

A: An MSc or PhD in the structural geology of ore deposits plus experience in the mining/exploration industry.

Q: What kind of personal traits do you recommend for this profession?

A: You need the ability to think in three-dimensions, to think and act quickly, and to be open to ideas. Communication skills and being able to work as a team are key in consulting.

Q: What is the salary range of your job?

A: $80,000 to $200,000.

Q: What do you like best about your job?

A: Helping people, teaching people, and seeing them grow and understand the mineral deposit they are trying to define.

Q: What are the advantages?

A: There is a great benefit of travel, being able to go to many places where you would never have chance to go, on any continent, but still with a home base in a major city. I have worked in China, West Africa, Australia, Central America, and South America. I have also worked in almost every Canadian province and territory.

Q: What are the advancement opportunities for this career?

A: I have the opportunity to become a partner in the consulting practice or a Vice President of Exploration for a mining company.

Q: How physically demanding is your job?

A: Not very, it can be somewhat demanding when working in remote field locations or underground in a mine.

Q: Why did you choose this career?

A: I chose this career because of my interest in structural geology and in 3D modelling. Structural geology when applied to ore deposits can be a very applied and practical science, rather than an esoteric, academic science.

Q: What is your most memorable moment/event/place related to your experience as an Earth scientist?

A: Qinghai Province, China, working at 3,500m elevation in the foothills of Tibet.

Q: What is your advice to newcomers?

A: Make sure you find a career that you enjoy. All jobs have their drawbacks at times, but finding something you enjoy is important.

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