Secrets of a Kolyma geologist

The Magadan region is famous not only for its deposits but also for experienced geologic exploration specialists. During DS’s interview a chief geologist of the Magadan project of Polymetal JSC Sergey Ananin told us how to prepare a drilling program at difficult sites and what methods of drilling are the most appropriate in Kolyma.

- Sergey, please tell us why you decided to become a geologist?

- It is quite simple. The professions related to geology is a tradition of my family. When your father is a miner, your mother is a geological engineer, one of your brothers is geologist, another brother is a drilling technician, your aunt is an ore enrichment specialist, the choice is obvious. It is very difficult to imagine another profession that provides equally wide range of works and freedom of thought. Wherever you come, there is always a workfor a geologist. A number of events and occasions finally brought me to the geology.

I started my professional activity in 2008, when I was a student, with working in Khakassia at prospecting. It was then that I decided to always try to have a surface work. After all, when you have only sky above your head it is relaxing and it leads to a unification with the nature. After Khakassia for five years I worked in one of regions of the Russian Federation that is famous for the largest placer gold deposits – in the Bodaybo district on the north of the Irkutsk region where I was working on prospecting and estimation of vein gold. This area has definitely one of the richest reserves of this precious metal. Then for one year I worked in the Krasnoyarsk Territory, but I have to admit that I always had an irresistible wish to be on the east, mainly at Kamchatka. In 2014, Serebro Magadana JSC (subsidiary of Polymetal) offered me to work in Kalyma and I am very happy about that. Ever since I’ve been holding an appointment as a chief project geologist and supervising silverpolymetallic and gold-silver targets in this rich and for many people mysterious area.

- What projects have you chanced to implement?

- In 2014-2017 under my direct supervision works at the Perevalnoye silver-polymetallic deposit were performed – the site required to be explored. Now a supplementary exploration of this deposit by underground workings is in process. This site has rather complex morphology of ore bodies, they do not have precise geological borders and as a result implementation of this project is rather complicated (ore is located more than 200 m deep); it taught me a lot and gave an incentive to use more well-thought approaches when estimating sites.

Currently I am busy with exploration of the Primorskoye gold-silver deposit. The task is quite simple – to get an established site with stable profitability. There is enough of issues, starting with extraction method and remoteness of the site from infrastructure and up to ambitious tasks to increase resource base of the deposit.

- What are your grounds for preparing drilling programs?

- Nowadays there are standard methods and instructions of the Russian Federation for geological prospecting and exploration, we follow them at the blueprint stage, later, at the site itself we perform test trials and give evidences for selecting one or another method for performing works. Due to short duration of season at remote sites (some sites operate only in winter period and some other only in summer, it depends on their accessibility) many works shall be performed based on reports of geologists prepared during estimation and exploration of ideal analogue deposits.

- Do you use your drilling division or engage contractors?

- Engagement of contractors is the policy of the company motivated by seasonality of works and urgent scopes. It makes it unpractical to have an own division, however during operational exploration we partially use our own resources.

- Do your contractors use reverse circulation drilling?

- I think that usage of RC rigs at the stages of prospecting, estimation and exploration in the Magadan region is not reasonable, it is not costeffective. The main advantages of RC drilling are drilling speed, absence of need for water and cost. Thereby the drilling speed achieved when using modern core drilling rigs, cost difference in the context of the Magadan reality are at most 20%, and the information obtained during RC drilling is much less, particularly when estimating silicavein- shaped targets. Therefore, at these stages in the Magadan region we use core drilling.

- Deposits of which other commercials minerals have you chanced to prospect or explore?

- First seven years in geology I devoted to gold, when I moved to Polymetal I worked on exploration of silver-polymeallic targets, now I am exploring a gold-silver site.

- Do you think that big or small geological discoveries are possible in your region?

- In fact Magadan region is a rather underestimated area. Its remoteness and undeveloped infrastructure significantly reduce attractiveness of the area, junior companies are very afraid of risks, therefore only large players having leading position in the mining industry can invest into this region. There will be discoveries! Discoveries of both small targets and those that will be important for the whole country.