In his own words: Economic geologist David Shaddrick |

In his own words: Economic geologist David Shaddrick

The basics

Name/title: David Shaddrick. economic geologist, Shaddrick & Associates

Number of years in this job: I have been a consultant for about 35 years

Years in this profession: Since 1971

Education: I have a bachelors of science in geology from University of Minnesota Institute of Technology and a masters of science in geology from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

Last book read: The bulletin of the Society of Economic Geologists. We have to read these things constantly; it is an ongoing and ever-learning process.

Favorite flick: “Paint Your Wagon.” It is a musical based on a Broadway play about the California Gold Rush, crazy prospectors and all that

What’s on your iPod: I don’t have an iPod.

Spouse, kids or pets: Nope, nope and nope. Our profession is not conducive to spouse, kits or pets.

Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about Shaddrick & Associates and your work.

David Shaddrick: I am a sole proprietor and own the company. Quite often I work alone, but on those rare occasion where a job is too large for me I get colleagues from the industry to help me. Basically I do everything from the marketing to the bean counting to the actual work. I fill primarily advisory roles, but I used to do geological mapping and geologic sampling. I also did a lot of project evaluation work. Nowadays, most of the time I am responding to requests from either senior management or investors who want to know about a project somewhere in the world. I review the literature and put together a report, or I go there and pick up some stones and kick some rocks and then look at the literature and send them a report.

NNBW: How did you get into this profession?

Shaddrick: When I got out of the service I decided I wanted to do something that would get me outdoors but still would be involved in science. I took one geology course, and that was all it took. The move from academic geology to economic geology came about because of my first job. During one of the mining slumps I happened to graduate from college, and I was offered a job at the Homestake Mine in South Dakota, which at that time was one of the largest underground gold mines in the world. I worked as an underground mine geologist and got the experience of coming up with the idea of where one might have an idea to find gold, and the thrill of the search and the thrill of discovery. It took me, and I’ve been doing it ever since. Exploration geology is probably the greatest lifestyle in the world.

NNBW: What do you like most about being a geologist?

Shaddrick: The fact that what I do exploring for mineral deposits is very important. I work in a part of life that at least for the past 30 years has been kind of looked down on by the intellectual elite and environmentally conscious — but what we do really is essential. It is a foundational element of our civilization. We find the things that everyone has to use, and I am very proud of that. It is a wonderful industry.

NNBW: Of all the places you’ve tramped, what’s your favorite?

Shaddrick: The Black Hills of South Dakota. I worked there for 16 years, and I love that place. Second is eastern Nevada.

NNBW: What’s the scariest place you ever visited?

Shaddrick: The mountains outside of Culiacan, Mexico. I stayed in a hacienda there with a drug lord.

NNBW: How did the latest recession change the way you do business?

Shaddrick: It didn’t change it a bit — I am used to it. You can go for an entire year without any paid work. You have to learn to pocket your money when you have it because you just know there are lean times ahead.

NNBW: How have the advances in technology changed your job from when you started in the industry?

Shaddrick: Some of more significant things are advances in mining and metallurgical technology that have changed the kinds of deposits I get to look for. Changes in GPS technology and the miniaturization of electronics also have changed a lot of the things I do. I used to drag tapes around and use little compasses and stuff like that; now we have GPS telling us where we are and we have computers in the field for mapping work. I have thousands of dollars of drafting equipment in my office that doesn’t get used because I do most of my drafting on computer. But the basics of looking at a rock and trying to describe what it is hasn’t changed a bit.

NNBW: What was your first job?

Shaddrick: I was a paperboy. I was 11 years old.

NNBW: What’s your dream job and why aren’t you working it?

Shaddrick: It’s the one I have got. I work for myself, I do what I want to do, I meet lots of wonderful people, and I get to see strange and exotic places. I get to wear scruffy clothes in places like Eureka, and then I get to spend a little bit of time dressed up in a coat and tie in Vancouver — who could ask for anything more?

NNBW: Have any advice for someone who wants to enter your profession?

Shaddrick: Do anything it takes to get experience. Take any job you can get. Get a good education and never stop learning.

NNBW: What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you that’s helped your career as a geologist?

Shaddrick: I have gotten so much advice from so many people, and it’s all been good. That’s one of the nifty things about our business — you are constantly learning from other people and following in their footsteps.

NNBW: How do you spend your time away from work?

Shaddrick: Quite frankly, I am never away from work. The only non-working recreation I have is going to movies or going for walks in the country — and that is more like work than anything else.

NNBW: If you could live your life over again, what one thing would you change?

Shaddrick: God, what the hell would I change? I would try to be smarter.

NNBW: What has been your biggest professional accomplishment?

Shaddrick: The discovery of a couple of gold mines.

NNBW: What did you dream of becoming when you were a kid?

Shaddrick: I was going to be an engineer, and then I found out about rocks.

NNBW: Wheat’s your idea of the perfect vacation?

Shaddrick: The one I am going on in Spain. I am visiting a bunch of interesting mining projects and hanging out in neat places and seeing major cities. I get a bit of the tulies and the big cities. We will wind up seeing lot of culture and things in Lisbon and Seville, and I am taking a few extra days to go look at a few other mining project and tour that part of the world. I don’t do cruises and I don’t do beaches.

NNBW: Why did you choose a career in northern Nevada? What do you like most about working/living here?

Shaddrick: Nevada has some of the finest geology in the world. I came here because of a transfer, and it was a professional challenge. I just never left. I love the fact that I can drive around and see rocks, and it has some of the best prospects for the discovery of gold in the world. I like the Canadian north, but it is just too darn cold.

To suggest a candidate for NNBW’s weekly question and answer column, look at our editorial calendar ( and contact reporter Rob Sabo at or call 775-850-2146.