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Career Profile

Sarah Lockwood (she/her)

Mine Geologist
Diavik Diamond Mine (Rio Tinto)
Sarah Lockwood headshot taken outside with snow in the background

Sarah Lockwood on site at the Diavik Diamond Mine, Northwest Territories.

Sarah Lockwood headshot taken outside with snow in the background

Sarah Lockwood on site at the Diavik Diamond Mine, Northwest Territories.

Location Born
Location Now
Education Pathway

I study the geology of an area to figure out where diamonds are located.

About me

I was born/grew up in: I was born in New Westminster, BC and grew up in Anmore, BC.

I now live in: Vancouver, BC

I completed my training/education at: I have a Bachelor of Science in Geophysics from the University of British Columbia. I completed an eight month co-op work term at Diavik Diamond Mine in 2019, which led to my full-time opportunity as a Mining Graduate in 2021 and eventual Mine Geologist role in 2022.

What I do at work

As a Mine Geologist I interpret the geology of the area that we are mining in. This includes understanding where the ore body is located. In my case, the ore I’m looking for is kimberlite, which contains diamonds! I also figure out where structures such as faults may be and check the quality of the rock being mined. My time is split between the field and the office. In the field, I take samples and map the geology. In the office, I log my data and perform computer modelling to record and visualize my interpretations.

 The two main things we mine are country rock and ore. Ore is the rock we mine to extract the minerals we want. Our ore is called kimberlite and it is shaped like a carrot. We mine kimberlite, crush it, and extract the diamonds. Country rock, on the other hand, is the rock native to the area surrounding the kimberlite pipe. We mine it so we can get to the ore, but it does not contain diamonds.

 As a Mine Geologist, I spend a large part of my day at my desk working on 3-D computer modelling of where the kimberlite is located. I also compare mine production to our kimberlite ore model. I do this to make sure we are mining where we should. This also tells me if we have reached our mining targets.

 To maximize the quantity of the ore body mined, I work with our Mining Engineers to produce monthly plans. We then work with the Surface Mining Operations team to confirm the plan is being followed correctly. To make sure our plans are realistic, we develop our orebody and geological structure models using 3-D software. We refine our models by looking at survey data, visual observations, and drilling data. All this information goes to produce the most accurate model. I really enjoy the process of piecing together various forms of data to help continually improve our models.

 While I spend a lot of my time focused on computer modelling, I also get to spend quite a bit of time outside. The balance of indoor and outdoor work is one of my favourite parts about being a Mine Geologist! Every day, I assess the ore that has been mined to ensure we don’t have too much country rock mixed in. The less country rock that is mixed into our ore helps the Process Plant when they recover the diamonds. We use a large machine called an excavator to sort through country rock and ore.

 The other major part of my outdoor work is collecting samples of the country rock and the ore body. I use these samples to identify the different minerals in the ore. Although our ore body overall is kimberlite, there are different types of kimberlites! It can be challenging to distinguish between them. We use different properties such as mineralogy, density and moisture content to help with the identification. 

My career path is

In high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up. I enjoyed all my subjects but had a particular affinity for Math and Science. I combined my interests in these courses and majored in Geophysics – the study of physics of the Earth – at University of British Columbia (UBC) in the Bachelor of Science program.

Although I enjoyed my courses at UBC, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do career-wise. When I began my third year, I applied to various co-op work positions. I applied to jobs in large cities in the corporate setting. These were geophysics-related, but also in the Tech and Mining industries.

When I initially applied to Rio Tinto, I applied to their general summer internship program. I was hoping to get a position working at their head office in Montreal. After going through the application and interview process, my recruiter reached out to me with a co-op opportunity at Diavik Diamond Mine. The job was at a subarctic remote mine site where the rotation is two weeks on and two weeks off. This was very different from how I had envisioned my career. Despite being nervous and it not being the role I had expected, I stepped outside my comfort zone and accepted the placement. As it turned out, I loved the work, the people, and the fly in fly out lifestyle.

I completed one more year of school after that summer and was fortunate to have the opportunity to return to Diavik as a Mining Graduate. I was a Mining Graduate for a year and a half, before accepting the Mine Geologist role this past year.

I am motivated by

I often think of geology as a form of storytelling. It’s fascinating to understand the history of the Earth. You have to decipher how the geology we have today formed tens and hundreds of millions of years ago. It is fun piecing together the puzzle that was the Earth so long ago!

Working as a Mine Geologist, I love being at the helm of the mining process and identifying the orebody, geological structures, and country rock. I enjoy getting to collaborate with people from all the different teams at the mine. This includes Surface Mining Operations, Geotechnical Engineers, Metallurgists, and Mining Engineers.

Ultimately, what I love most about this role is the people I work with. When you work in a fly-in fly-out role, your coworkers become your second family. You often spend more time with them than your friends and family at home! Diavik has built an incredible community. I love collaborating with coworkers across all departments. As well, I have coworkers from across Canada and from all parts of the world. As someone who enjoys being part of a team, it’s incredibly motivating working with people who have different backgrounds, cultures, and bring an array of knowledge to the table. It creates a great opportunity to collaborate and develop ideas.

The mining industry is a vital part of our society! I find it very fulfilling knowing that what we mine is used and appreciated by people globally. I enjoy the challenges this industry brings in the 21st century and our collective effort in making it a safer, more efficient, and sustainable practice.

How I affect peoples’ lives

Minerals that have been processed and broken down from mined rocks, are used in almost everything you own or have used. From your cell phone to the equipment used in hospitals, mining is vital for the modern world. Diamonds are important for not just engagement rings and jewelry. It is also used for semi-conductors, lasers, acoustics, biomedical technology and other industrial purposes.

Geologists are at the forefront of the mining industry. At the start, we are involved in discovering, identifying, and mapping the ore body. During mining, we perform grade control and waste rock management. We measure the movement of ore and make sure country rock movement is observing mining and environmental regulations. On a personal note, I think it is important to encourage more young women to enter the mining industry and other STEM fields.

Outside of work I

Since I work two-weeks-on, two-weeks-off, I really enjoy spending my time off travelling solo or with friends. Working fly-in fly-out makes it difficult to participate in sports. I tend to relax by reading or going on walks by the ocean or in the mountains. 

My advice to others

My best advice is to never turn down an opportunity. I would not be where I am today if I didn’t challenge myself to step outside my comfort zone and say yes to the opportunity. It’s okay to not know what you want to do but continue to stay curious and explore. Working hard, diversifying your interests, and developing a good work ethic in high school pays off!

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Foreign Languages
  • Geography
  • History
  • Literature and Language Arts
  • Science
  • Math
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Brought people together
  • Liked helping people
  • Organized activities for my friends
  • Played on a sports team
  • Was motivated by success
  • Wanted to be in charge
  • Engaged in volunteer activities
  • Liked reading
  • Felt at home in the outside, natural environment
  • Was really creative
  • Wasn't sure what I wanted to do
  • Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades

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