Geology in Serbia

  • Posted on: 11 July 2019
  • By: richard

Mineco regularly hosts graduates on internships and dissertation placements, providing the professionals of tomorrow with initial experience in the industry. Chloe Lam was this year's candidate selected to go to Serbia. She graduated from Camborne School of Mines and had since worked in gold exploration in Northern Ireland . Read about her experience below: 

First day arriving at Serbia has been eventful, with flights delayed and cancelled, I successfully landed in a country I wouldn’t have thought I’ll leave my carbon footprints on, or to be dedicating my time understanding part of its geological history… and drinking Rakija. I was greeted by two Mineco colleagues at the airport – these are the people I’ll be spending four weeks with on the field as Exploration Geologists, and as soon as we got into the car to drive down South to Rajiceva Gora, I was asking many questions about the geology and project, as there was little paper available for me to research before arrival. But really, it was an excuse to find out about each other and test my geology skills. Besides the project, I was given a commentary of what we were driving past, its history and an insight of the Serbian culture. It took us approximately three hours to arrive at our accommodation/office, and as soon as we settled, I was briefed and shown what kind of lithologies we will encounter. It is known that, to truly be ready and understand what you’re looking for, it is best to go out on the field and get dirty. So off we went -

It has been three years since I last did any geological mapping, so the first week of fieldwork was slightly challenging but helpful at the same time. I spent the first few days working alongside with one of my colleagues, to practice their analysis procedure and most importantly, recognising the different type of rocks and mineralisation zones. After that, I was deployed to wander into the wilderness independently and advised to discuss any uncertainties at anytime. Although we kept close by, I disliked these random surges thinking I’ll be left behind. I often found myself trying to catch up with my colleagues, which both seem to hike steep mountains with no problem and very quickly, hence I refered them as mountain goats. As I worked more independently, I became more comfortable and appreciated it. In the field, it is very peaceful listening to the slight movement of trees and birds chirping away. Therefore, it is very easy to concentrate in completing daily set tasks attentively, and any unexpected noise, such as colleagues calling for your name could startle you thinking what and where that beast could be. Even so, it is great to witness the wildlife in its habitat.

The next couple of weeks, mapping each day can feel repetitive as you could be trekking in one lithology area, and you can only describe the rock as much as you have already seen. Nonetheless, when daily moments of finding an interesting area or mineralisation, your adrenaline increases bringing excitement and raising many questions of what, when and how? At the end of most fieldwork day, it is our duty to build a good relationship with the local people, so we regularly visit many local people’s home to discuss about rocks or generally ones daily life. This has encouraged me to learn basic Serbian, so I can at least try to communicate and not feel like I am only there to look pretty, drink coffee and eat snacks. Due to health and safety reasons, we usually stay in our accommodation/office when the weather is very poor. Although these are bonus days for my feet to rest, these are days to do further reading, discussing geology of the area and completing computer modelling tasks. I have to say, thanks to my colleagues being knowledgeable and supportive, I confidently ask any questions as there is not such thing as a silly question and have become more familiar using Mapinfo.
So what did I achieve? The confidence to map independently, strengthening my geological skills, to question everything and anything, appreciating the wildlife, learning dobri basic Serbian, hulk-like thighs, and meeting new people by drinking Rakija. I had an enjoyable and educational experience.