Spotlight on Our Team – Mark Drabble

In this ‘Spotlight on Our Team – Mark Drabble‘ blog, we introduce you to Mark Drabble, our Executive Consultant based in Australia. With over 32 years in geology, Mark’s experience spans due diligence studies, Mineral Resource audits, production, resource development, estimation, and consulting. Mark excels in gold, nickel, base metals, manganese, and chromite projects in Western Australia, and has led audits and consulting globally in Canada, Mali, Tanzania, Ghana, Mozambique, Southeast Asia, Mongolia, and Saudi Arabia.

Mark is also an excellent presenter of Snowden Optiro training geology courses and is known for his unique sense of humor – which is evident during this interview.

We sat down with Mark and asked him some questions.

Q: Can you tell me a bit about your background and where you grew up?

I was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, spent time in the UK and grew up in Sydney, Australia.

Q: What is your educational background and any degrees or certifications you’ve earned?

I studied at the University of Technology, Sydney and completed a Bachelor of Applied Science in Geology, I did my training in Mineral Resource Estimation with Snowden.  I am qualified in Surface and Underground Mines Rescue and have an Official BBQ Judging Certificate from the Kansas City BBQ Society.

Q: How did you choose your career path and what motivated you to pursue it?

I didn’t want to work in an office……how’s that for irony? I spent a lot of time outdoors growing up in the Blue Mountains and a Degree in Geology offered an outdoor career in remote locations with awful rosters and really unusual people. I came over to Kalgoorlie as a student (before the super pit) and working in a number of the new and historic mineshafts absolutely convinced me to become a Mine Geologist. I still love going underground and I think Mine Geos are some of the best problems solvers around.

Q: Can you highlight any notable milestones or achievements in your professional life?

As a Geology Manager, it was leading and developing teams of geologists at mining operations, turning projects into orebodies and delivering on life of mine plans. As a consultant my focus is on realising value from client information by turning it into knowledge. 

My skillset is building 3D models that demonstrate the geological understanding of risk and value, why the metal is where it is, and where opportunities exist. My first love is gold, then nickel. I spent four years at Tick Hill (amazingly high-grade gold) in Mount Isa, eight years at Southern Cross in Archean vein style gold deposits, then four years at Kambalda in Type 1 nickel sulphides and I loved it. These are two metals where geology should always be king.

Q: What are your hobbies, interests, or creative outlets outside of work?

Travel, rugby, cycling, music and cooking. I play an electric guitar, and if this consulting thing doesn’t work out, I plan to go on Australia’s got talent with my buddy Kahan!

Q: Are there any books, movies, or works of art that have had a profound impact on you?

Tolkein – Lord of the Rings, Cookbooks by the masters (Escoffier, Nobu, Brahimi, Ottolenghi, Niland, Pepin, Kate Lamont), and Pitard’s book on sampling made me realise I hadn’t been doing it so well as a field geologist…

Q: Have you had mentors or role models guide you along your journey?

I was fortunate to spend time with Nick Archibald and Dr Sarah Jones, who both inspired a love of mapping, structure and interpretation. Paul Payne for mentoring me in having a questioning mind in Mineral Resource Estimation and auditing. At Agnew working with Jon Hronsky shifted the paradigm of how I think about mineral deposits, frameworks and how all the elements fit together.

Q: What are some significant challenges you have faced in your career?

Sharing an office with Paul Blackney!

Q: How did you overcome those challenges?


Q: Are there any specific projects or initiatives you’re excited about pursuing?

Training Geologists in interpreting spatial data, and how to use as much information as they can to make geologically based decisions on where boundaries should be interpreted. I firmly believe that the Geologist should understand the fundamentals of the system that they are trying to represent before letting software make those decisions for them.

We extend our sincere gratitude to Mark for sharing his experiences and thoughts and wish him continued success as an Executive Consultant at Snowden Optiro.

If you’d like to connect with Mark, you can message him here.

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