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RSC: A trusted advisor in the resources consulting space

· 1300 words, 4 minute read
With powerful numerical technological tools being introduced to the market, how do we ensure the right people are harnessing their power? We recently interviewed Olivier Bertoli, General Manager Resources and Reserves at RSC, in anticipation for AusIMM’s upcoming Mineral Resource Estimation Conference. A panellist for the ‘future of geostatistics’ panel discussion at the conference, Olivier identifies a key challenge facing resource estimations due to the advancement of new technologies, reminding us that education remains a critical foundation for this discipline.
With a 30-year career as a geostatistician, Olivier also shares his thoughts on the future of mineral resource estimation, highlighting three emerging trends that need careful monitoring.


As the General Manager Resources and Reserves at RSC, can you share more about your current role and your career journey to date?

Upon reflection for this interview, I realised that next year will mark my 30-year anniversary as a geostatistician and AusIMM member. Over my 30-year career I've been involved in number of diverse roles, all technically based within resource estimation.

I've ran my own consulting companies with various business partners which have all grown to small teams (Quantitative Group, Tenzing) which ended up flourishing in larger ventures, I was the Managing Director at Geovariances for a few years and Principal MRE consultant at OB1 Geostat’ before joining the team at RSC. Throughout my career I’ve had the pleasure of leading compact technical teams, mentoring young talent along the way, and enjoyed working with them to be trusted by mining companies to work on their resource estimates.

Now as the General Manager Resources and Reserves at RSC, I get to continue doing what I love – which is leading a small dynamic team to deliver technically excellent work for mining companies to base their decisions on.


You've been with RSC for two years now. What changes or growth have you seen at RSC in this time?

Over the past two years our team at RSC has more than doubled to a team of around 100. And the Resources and Reserves team, which I lead, has undergone the same transformation growing from a team of four or five, just three years ago, to a team of 12 consultants currently.

This growth is due to great leadership and culture within RSC; by appointing the right people and pushing the agenda across our three consulting units: exploration, resource and reserve estimation and geoscience. Our contract geologist and field technician services and pXRF rentals continue to provide diversity to our revenue stream. Most recently we have started offering automated mineralogy services, through the use of our new SEM facility located in our Perth office.

Since the inception of RSC, 15 years ago, the company has placed great emphasis on the clear communication of results. Questioning why you’ve been asked to do something? What's the context? What's the purpose? And what have you done in the time that was allocated to help answer these questions? In the end, we deliver processed information that will help the client make better decisions. There should be no ambiguity on the value of that processing.


As a trusted advisor in the resources and reserves consulting space, can you share more about RSC's predictions for the future of mineral resource estimation?

I think as a sector, we need to tackle three salient trends, some of which have been at play for some time.

  1. The status of the competent person (CP)
    There is substantial work being done by a range of stakeholders, including AusIMM and JORC. The outcome of this work will bring clarity to the sector shedding light on the practitioner and what they need to do to maintain their CP status. It is not enough to simply call yourself a CP on the basis of perceived experience and expertise, the status needs to be demonstrated.
  2. A form of a standardisation across the industry to establish common grounds and common rules
    CRIRSCO has been working on a global standardisation of the rules within industry codes, such as JORC and the CIM guidelines for reporting. This standardisation will facilitate the bridge between the codes in terms of code compliance but also in terms of nomenclature and terminology. This standardisation will also bring global collaboration, eliminating a silo-approach to our work, fostering a greater sense of community through working together.
  3. Attracting young talent to the sector
    As a sector, we are challenged in attracting young talent and securing a future talent pipeline. The requirements continues to grow, yet the number of people working in the sector remains the same, which places great pressure on the people working within the industry.


As a panellist for the ‘The Future of Geostatistics’ panel discussion at AusIMM’s upcoming Mineral Resource Estimation Conference, what message are you hoping to share regarding the current developments in geostatistics and how as a sector we can improve the accuracy of predictions and risk evaluations?

With the advancement of new technologies, such as the advent of Python scripting, professionals can automate and adapt their workflows to the specifics of the problem they encounter.

The challenge we are facing now as a sector is that when we are presented with a problem, we are not stopping to consider how we can reduce the dimension and complexity of that problem before we embark on finding a solution. We just throw everything at it and decide later. Approaching problems in this way is putting a lot of pressure, technically, on the algorithms being used. We’re demanding of these algorithms to be more and more efficient, and if we really focus on numerical engineering, the progress made by software editors in recent years is allowing industry practitioners to do pretty much whatever they want when faced with a resource estimation problem. And this comes at a price. It expects a sound command of a lot of different algorithms and possible interpretation methodologies. What I've identified is that with the advancements of these technologies, which allow for powerful calculations to be performed, we didn't necessarily take into account the skill level required of the practitioners for using them safely.

Education remains at the foundation of what we do. To see the module on geostatistics at Edith Cowan University in Perth being stopped for lack of funding, for example, is disappointing. We have very powerful numerical mastodons being built and we want the right people to harness these powerful tools. As it is these tools which are producing the models used to inform critical and important decisions. There is still a gap here that I believe as an industry we need to address.


How can attending conference delegates find out more about RSC and the focussed solutions you offer to your clients?

Come say hi at our booth at the conference! Our entire Resources and Reserves team from New Zealand and Perth will be attending the conference, including René Sterk and Campbell McKenzie our General Manager Business Development.

Our team will be available to discuss any challenges you may be facing, and work with you to solve them. We would also love to share more about what we do at RSC as our team extends beyond mineral resource estimation. We have an exploration consulting team led by Sean Aldrich that supports a number of exploration programmes and technical due diligence studies around the world, as well as a geoscience team led by Dr Michael Gazley that helps the MRE team on the definition of geological domains and the framework within which to perform your resource estimation.

Delegates can also visit our website or arrange to meet us at our Perth office, where we are holding a 15-year anniversary celebration the day following the conference!


What are you looking forward to most about the upcoming conference?

We have an exciting opportunity to get together to discuss the future of mineral resource estimation, review our common challenges and advance the discipline forward. Most professionals involved in mineral resources estimation will be walking the floors of this conference, and it will be outstanding to get together and reconnect with old friends.


Join the team at RSC at AusIMM's inaugural Mineral Resource Estimation Conference.


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