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They say life is an adventure, and Larry Mireku seems to have had more than his fair share. Read about his multi-national geological adventures.

Larry Mireku has had a lot of challenges thrown at him during his working life. He has used his brains and tenacity to overcome the adverse impacts of cyclical trends in the mining industry and other global economic crises to forge an international career as a geologist, GIS specialist, database administrator and trainer extraordinaire. And he has finally found his perfect niche… at maxgeo.

Larry was born and raised in Ghana, where he earned his Bachelors (Hons) degree in geological engineering and gained experience working for two exploration companies. But then in 1998, the Bre-X scandal changed investors’ views of exploration companies worldwide, making it much more difficult for explorers to get funding, and Larry lost his job alongside hundreds of others.

He decided it was time for a new adventure, and when Acadia University in Nova Scotia awarded him a scholarship to complete his masters in geology, he made the move to Canada.

In his final year of study, Larry won an award for a presentation he gave at a conference. The award sponsor, Noranda (now Falconbridge) gave him the opportunity of a summer job with them, at which he developed a taste for data presentation and interaction using GIS software. That resulted in him moving to Alberta to complete a two-year GIS qualification.

“Geologists are spatial people. Because every geological feature has a geographic location, it is important to properly represent drill sites, sample locations, etc., in their appropriate geographic coordinates. This is why GIS skills are very useful for a geologist to have”, Larry said.

After a stint as a GIS specialist with a gold exploration company in the Yukon, Larry went on to work for a diamond company in Nunavut, the most northern territory of Canada, which includes the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

“Imagine a person like me, who was raised in the tropics. I don’t know how I survived in the Arctic, where it gets to -500C in winter. In the summer the bears are our best friends if you know how to bear them (lol). In the winter there’s frostbite and hypothermia. The weather isn’t actually the biggest challenge though – it’s the isolation. On the other hand, I saw the northern lights – a spectacle that tourists pay a lot of money to see”, Larry recalled fondly.

After a period of 4 years trekking in the Arctic tundra, Larry figured it was time to head south.

Larry found a job as a consultant for AMEC in Vancouver, working with 3D geological modeling software packages, auditing databases, and reviewing resource audits. But when the Global Financial Crisis hit, that role disappeared as well and Larry was lucky to find a job with Newmont Hope Bay (luckily in the office this time!).

“It was at Newmont that I got my first opportunity to interact with a commercial relational database system, Microsoft SQL 2005. I will say it was a divine connection. I realised how valuable it is for a geologist to be able to see what is happening with their data.”

Larry had heard about maxgeo, and had wanted to work within the company for a long time. When he was finally offered a role within maxgeo in mid-2018, he recalls the day distinctly and describes it as “one of the most memorable experiences I have ever had.”

Since that day, Larry has used his skills and experience as a geologist, GIS specialist and SQL database specialist to become a great asset to the maxgeo team in Vancouver.

“I am a database consultant – my role is to support new clients and hosted clients, everything from database management to troubleshooting, training, presenting webinars and even some sales.”

The Vancouver team is building a great client base and reputation in the Americas, and they haven’t let the COVID-19 pandemic stop their momentum. The team manager, Karel Radford, has even discovered a hidden talent in Larry – training and coaching.

“Our team has been very busy non-stop since October when I completed my first training of five DBAs for Barrick Gold. I went on to train DBAs for New Gold in Ontario and Atlantic Gold in Nova Scotia, before the pandemic. In late March 2020, I successfully undertook my first 5-day intensive, fully online training session. Since then, all my duties from support to training and sales have been completely virtual and yet very successful and fun”, he said.

Larry is content now that he has found a role that uses all of his skills and ingenuity, where every day and every client is different. Life in Vancouver is comfortable with his wife and children. Larry hopes he will stay with maxgeo for many years to come – and so do we.

Read about Larry’s views on data science and machine learning in the article Mining Data in the Time of COVID-19 from the AME (Association for Mineral Exploration)

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