Welcome to the first ‘Your Best Mining Story’, a new column to share your favourite moments and stories in mining. We will be profiling colleagues from our sites across the world to hear their best mining memories and anecdotes. Stories will range from major operational achievements to exploration adventures and inspirational moments, as well as recounting funny moments along the way. It’s your column and your chance to tell your story.
Matthew Rovardi, Exploration Manager – “A few seconds later, a group of people appeared, with bow and arrows pointed right at us!”
A career in exploration takes a real sense of adventure. Our first story comes from Matthew Rovardi, Exploration Manager, who has been an exploration geologist for the last thirteen years and recounted one of his favourite on-the-ground stories:
It was back in 2008, when I was in Guyana on an exploration trip for a junior mining company. We were mapping stream sediment through the dense rainforest with a group of four other geologists and a point person, a local with knowledge of the area.
As we progressed into the depths of the rainforest in a procession-like straight line it was common to have the point person quickly yell, “Stop!” We would all come to an abrupt halt, usually because of snakes crossing our path. In order to not disturb the natural rainforest habitat, you either wait a few minutes until the snake moves, or go around it.
But, not this time. We asked, “Is it a snake?!”
The point person replied with, “Well, no, but…I can smell something…”.
A few seconds later, a group of people appeared out of nowhere, with bow and arrows pointed right at us!
It turned out to be a group of local hunters looking for tapirs – a mammal that resembles a pig.
Luckily, they realized that we were humans and wanted to find out why we were in the middle of the rainforest.
We ended talking to them for a long time, with our point person translating for us, and even became friends. By the end of it, our new friends ended up sharing the exact prime location where they pan for gold.
Matthew Rovardi, Exploration Manager, (right) in Guyana
Where there’s a will, there’s a way
The small landing strip
On the water
A tapir up close