EurGeol of the month: Steffen Loos

“European Geologist of the month” is a section of EFG’s monthly newsletter GeoNews. Each month we ask one of the European Geologist title holders to tell us about his professional experiences and which role the title has played for his career. This month we talked to Steffen Loos, member of the German association BDG. Steffen Loos was born in Wiesbaden, Germany in 1968. His family immigrated to South Africa in 1972. He went to the German School in Cape Town, where he attained his Matric in 1987. In 1988 he left South Africa and attained his German Abitur in the same year. From 1988 to 1989 he completed his army service (15 months, paratroopers) and enrolled for the study of Geology & Mineralogy at the Johannes-Gutenberg University in Mainz, where he graduated (Diplom) in 1995. He then signed up at the South African company Gold Fields Ltd. and worked at West Driefontein Gold Mine until 1999 as a mine geologist on the 3000 m deep No. 6 Shaft. After returning to Germany he was employed as Head of the department for geology by Schaefer Kalk GmbH & Co. KG, a position he still holds.

Name: Steffen Loos
EurGeol title number: 1309
Country: Germany
In which country do you currently work? – Germany
In which field of geology do you work? – Minerals

What inspired you to become a geologist? – Already as a child I liked collecting interesting stones and minerals. Since I grew up in South Africa, a country with fascinating geological formations and vast mineral resources, I was quickly captivated. There were so many questions about how everything was formed and I wanted to know the answers. My affinity towards science and my love for solving puzzles and looking for clues led my way towards exploration and mining geology.

How many fellow students did you have? – About 30

There are fewer women working in geology than men. What would you say to girls who might be interested in a career in geology? – If the interest is there then gender is of not the decisive factor. I know many female geologists in various fields of geology. In the field of mining and exploration geology where I work in, there are definitely much fewer women than men. Especially the mining industry is still seen by many as “man’s world”. But the times are changing and the chances are there. Geologist is such a great profession which definitely has a future.

Which field of geology did you study in particular? – Geochemistry and applied Geology

In which sector(s) did/do you work? – Mining industry

What do you currently do in your job? Could you describe an average day? – My work is too versatile to describe it in one average day. Typically for a medium-sized business the Geologist has to be an all-rounder in many ways. As manager of the department for geology and property management I have many fields of responsibility:

1. Ensuring the long term mineral supply for the entire company in Germany as well as abroad
2. Planning and managing exploration projects
3. Estimation and feasibility study of mineral resources
4. Application procedures for quarry and waste dump permits
5. Short and long term extraction planning as well as resource calculations using 3D models
6. Regulating selective mining using block models to ensure sustainability
7. Recultivation of dump sites and quarries in accordance with the legal requirements
8. Transport road planning
9. Ground water management and slope stabilisation ensuring an unimpeded access to all deposits
10. Assessment of quarries and mineral deposits in course of due diligence procedures in Germany and abroad
11. Property management, including the management of buffer areas, ecological accounts and equalisation reserves.
12. Public relations
13. Representing company on the board for mineral planning and subsequent use in the German Minerals Federation (MIRO, member of the UEPG), since 2013 chairman.
14. Member in the advisory board for research and development in the German Minerals Federation.
Generally my working day consists of supervising the various tasks outside in the field and in the office I work on 3D models, quarry planning and writing reports and then there are the various meetings. There are regular MIRO and UEPG meetings in Brussels, Berlin and various other German cities. In addition there are business trips to the plants and quarries in Malaysia and China. I am also responsible for visitor groups from the local communities as well as officials and customers, giving them tours through our plants and quarries.

What’s your favourite part of your job? – My favourite part of work is when I´m doing field work, mapping and exploration.

Why should young people consider a career in geosciences? – It is, as I already mentioned very versatile and fascinating. Geology combines all sciences and is the basis for our modern and industrial society. Everywhere raw materials are needed and Geologists are there to find them

What kind of personal qualities do you need as a geoscientist? – One has to be self-reliant and adaptable and one should not be afraid of making decisions. An analytical mind and a good imagination is something one should have. I always compare Geology with a 1.000 piece 3D puzzle of which one only knows a couple of pieces. Seeing the big picture is the challenge. In general one should be fit and like working outdoors in sometimes quite remote regions.

Could you explain when and why you applied for the European Geologist title? – Actually that was quite a coincidence. In 2014 I had a new idea concerning some groundwater problems in one of our quarries which required some substantial investments. The company’s director insisted on a second opinion by an expert in hydrogeology. This expert was a European Geologist and when he heard about experience in mining and exploration he insisted that I should apply for the title. When I got around to think about it, I decided to do it. Since I´m the only geologist in the company, this was the chance to exchange experiences and ideas with people of the same profession and building up a network.

Did you already work abroad? If yes, could you tell us about your experiences abroad? – I worked on the gold mines in South Africa for 3 years. There I was the responsible geologist for a 3.000 m deep shaft at the West Driefontein Gold Mine near Carletonville. It was an impressive experience, exciting and dangerous, but most of all I learnt a lot about 3D geology. Scrambling around underground under extreme conditions, not losing orientation in the geological setting, keeping the mind set to the task and solving the problems at hand. My responsibilities where underground mapping and exploration. I had to check if the miners were on reef and when they lost it due to geological structures or by mistake I had to help. I logged core, drew up plans and helped to coordinate the mining to reduce waste and increase production for the shaft. Writing reports and documentation were also part of my work.
Today I still work abroad on a regular basis, since the company I work for also has quarries in other countries, where I have to coordinate and plan the mining and exploration.

What does the European Federation of Geologists represent for you and what do you expect from our association? – For me the EFG represents first of all a pool of knowledge. Every member is an expert in a certain field and this knowledge and experience to the benefit of others. Sharing our knowhow and helping the young geologists on their way must be our motto. Not only should the EFG act in the interests of its members, it should also mediate our expertise to the politicians on a European level. Decisions are only as good as the information they rely on and the experts that give it.

Would you advise fellow geologists to become a member of a professional association? – Definitely yes.

To know you a little better: What do you like to do in your spare time? – My hobbies are hiking and canoeing and generally the outdoors. I like canyoning and rafting and hiked to the summit of the Kilimanjaro in 2012.

More information on the EurGeol title: http://eurogeologists.eu/eurgeol-title

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