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The Importance of Training

Clayton Deutsch,

Some of the greatest harm to the advancement of geostatistics has been caused by experienced geostatisticians who have stagnated. As an example, and at the extreme, a senior level executive in a mining company told me not long ago that inverse distance to a high power was sufficient for their resources because they focus on the geology. I have many words to describe my reaction to this, but most are unprofessional. More commonly, there are experienced modelers who have not kept up with powerful developments in probabilistic resource modeling, categorical variable simulation, trend modeling and modeling with a trend, geometallurgical modeling and so on. These experienced professionals would not (and should not) advocate for the use of advanced techniques they do not understand. It is essential that experienced modelers take some time from their busy schedules to “sharpen the axe” before they lose their edge.

Abraham Lincoln was quoted as saying “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Some modern management gurus have morphed this to mean self renewal and self care. Taking care of yourself is important – especially in these current trying times, but I am talking about learning and gaining experience with modern techniques to construct the best possible geological models. Some time at the beach or in the spa could be fantastic for renewal and care, but you also need some days in the less pleasant endeavour of actively learning and gaining experience with advanced geostatistics.

The importance of training for junior staff and staff that do not have a formal geostatistical education is evident. Many professionals with an undergraduate education in earth sciences or geological/mining engineering practice resource estimation. Their classroom time focused on resource modeling was limited. They are mentored by more experienced staff; however, the mentors may be behind themselves (we already covered that) and, more likely, they do not have the time to work through the fundamentals and tradecraft in a systematic fashion. Setting aside training time for early career professionals is essential for their long-term development; a habit of lifelong learning is essential to stay sharp and relevant.

Training by academics is of varying quality and focuses more on theory that may not directly translate to practical application. That is useful, but incomplete. Training by software companies is of varying quality and may focus more on how the software works and what buttons to push. That is useful, but also incomplete. Training by geostatisticians practicing at a high level focuses more on their latest challenges and what they think is neat. That is also useful, but the best approach would be to strike a balance between theory, implementation and practical application. Not all trainers fall into one of these bins. After 35 years in the business I could put on different hats. Some of the most well received and well balanced training I have provided over the years has been in collaboration with software companies.

There are different schools of thought. There are references to the French school, North American, Eastern Hemisphere and other groups. Training should not try and be all encompassing and present every point of view. It is essential to present a coherent workflow that could be brought to bear on real world resource modeling challenges. Nevertheless, there should be acceptance of different points of view and recognition that there are often legitimate alternatives. I find it satisfying that the core simulation engine in RMSP is turning bands and the core categorical variable modeling technique is a variant of truncated Gaussian. I may be branded as a North American, but those two key algorithms were not invented here.

There are different software tools and platforms that could be used. We will, of course, use the software we develop, but any software could be used. The theory, implementation details and practical application tips are independent of software.

Resource Modeling Solutions just announced a series of training classes for 2021. Important developments continue to be made and these classes are the most important venue to learn about them and how to apply them appropriately.

Information on 2021 Training Courses