Matthew Pickard
Vice President, Environment & Sustainability
Sabina Gold & Silver Corporation

Matthew Pickard

How did you get started in the mineral exploration industry?

I’m born, raised and educated in Sudbury. Sudbury is a great mining town; I have relatives in the industry so mining is literally in my blood.  I opted to take my initial degree in Environmental Earth Science which led to my first few summer jobs with Falconbridge in Sudbury. I spent summers in the field taking water samples, groundwater studies, reclamation work and more.

What are some of the positions you’ve held over the years?

I’ve now worked in many commodities but always within the Canadian mining industry.  I started with various roles in Sudbury, Timmins and Toronto within the nickel and zinc divisions of Falconbridge.   I then moved on to Coordinator and Manager roles within De Beers focused on diamond exploration and development in Canada, particularly in the North.  Following that I moved into iron ore with Baffinland Iron Mines who was working to advance a large project in Nunavut at that time. There I held Manager and Director roles within the company. That led me to my current role with Sabina Gold and Silver focused on advancement of gold properties, once again in Nunavut.

To what do you credit your career advancement?

Experience is everything.  Getting good experience early in my career put me on the right path.  Get the right education and do what you have to do to get the initial experience.  In my case I knew early in my career that I did not want a field based, science-type role.  As a result I went back to school to complete an MBA and subsequently secured numerous professional designations including Professional Geoscientist, Environmental Practitioner and Registered Safety Professional.  This helped me to move into corporate roles at a young age. Finally, build relationships. The mining industry is a very social one, people are generally happy to help one another, especially if you’ve made yourself known.

What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned while working in the industry?

The industry is hot and cold.  Hot is great because there are numerous opportunities with good compensation.  Cold can be a challenge as roles disappear and so does some of the fringe compensation and benefits.  Build relationships, use them and keep all options open.

Given the cyclical nature of the industry, you must have faced a downturn – how did you weather your way through it and what advice would you give to young geologists and recent graduates that are facing the current slump?

Be flexible.  Learn what you can when you can.  If things within your company don’t go as planned be willing to take on different roles.  In the 2009 down turn I actually offered to work rotations as an Acting Environmental Superintendent, a bit of a step down from my Manager role.  This allowed me to learn more about site operations and maintain my place within the company.  Once the economic recovery started in later 2009 and 2010 I was rewarded with more senior corporate work which eventually helped lead to my promotion to Director.