INNOVATION January-February 2014

f ea t ures

BC Geoscientists Contribute to International Resource Management Discussion Jean Sorensen W ith the growing controversy over natural resource exploitation and management worldwide, geotechni- cal engineers and geoscientists have proved a necessary fixture on major project development sites in order to deliver the objectivity and specialized skills necessary to produce risk and environmental impact assessments.

“We are scientists who work to provide the best analysis possible,” says Dr. Matthias Jakob, P.Geo., with BGC, who has been called to provide expertise on a number of controversial projects. “The outcome may not always be one the client wants,” says Jakob, who publishes in international journals, “but, the geoscientist has a broader perspective and duty to hold fast to credibility in a global environment.” The Current Climate for Geoscientists “We are currently coming to the end of the so-called super-cycle in the mining industry,” says Hedberg, describing the more than 12- year upswing in metal demand—particularly gold—that paralleled an increased demand in the oil and gas sector. This increased world demand has had geoscientists moving into often highly charged political situations to complete impartial risk assessment or resource development assessment.

Geoscience as a discipline relies heavily on specific expertise, says Steve Hedberg, P.Eng./P.Geo., President and Chief Executive Officer at BGC Engineering (BGC), a Vancouver-based geotechnical engi- neering company. While the structural engineer can readily assess materials, he says, the geoscientist or geological engineer is working in hidden layers of the Earth’s crust, which are “very heterogeneous, very mixed and changing, and we are often working on sites that are under-sampled.”

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