Andy Wallace

Andy Wallace

Biographical Info I was surprised to be asked to do this column as I near the end of my career.  I am not sure what to write that might interest the GSN membership, but will look at turning points in my career path. Decisions made with little thought during one’s career often turn out to have lasting implications. I grew up in the flatlands (Llano Estacado) of Eastern New Mexico. It is one of the few places in the world where one standing on terra firma can see the curvature of the Earth when looking at the horizon. I started college at New Mexico State majoring in electrical engineering. That was a bad fit for me, and I was floundering after three semesters. I had decided to leave school forever. At the last minute, I got a recommendation from my brother-in-law in the oil industry that led to my first geology class, which was the beginning of my 50+ year career. I transferred to Eastern New Mexico University, where a 4 man geology faculty awaited me along with the possibility of a geology degree which NMSU didn’t offer. My focus in geology changed my junior year when I took a class in reading electrical well logs, where I learned that I probably would not like the job of a petroleum geologist. I wanted to spend more time in the field with the rocks and out of an office. I decided to pursue mining and exploration geology and decided to go to grad school at UTEP (the old Texas School of Mines). I had my first real field jobs in geology while at UTEP for Dow Chemical and Texas Gulf Sulphur. I eventually came to Mackay School of Mines in Reno from El Paso. Another career turn happened at Mackay. Some of us graduate students were jungled together in the basement of the Mines building. One early morning in 1974 a Cordex geologist, Paul Dircksen, was walking through the halls looking for someone to do some petrographic work on thin sections of drill cuttings from Hasbrouck. All six of us in the office could have done this work, and trust me we all needed the money, but luckily for me I was the only one there at the time. A couple of months after I completed the job I was invited to look at Hasbrouck on the ground.  A long-legged, tall guy strode up the steep hill to meet us on a drill road. That was John Livermore. The conversation was short with him asking questions for which I had no good answers. It was quick because that is the way he did things, but we were also standing in a swarm of tiny rattlesnake babies that had just hatched. A few months later John offered me a mapping job at Sterling and Pioneer, both near Beatty. My career had begun. For the first ten years at Cordex, I mainly mapped, but sat on drills some of the time. My specialty was mapping in altered volcanic rocks. John was a great man to work for - honest as could be and he led by example. I have been asked over the years how I got a job with such a famous geologist. The truth is I didn’t know he was famous and knew next to nothing about gold deposits when I joined Cordex. My experience was in copper and fluorspar exploration. I was glad to get away from copper. I had helped on a job evaluating leached caps and realized right away that I was handicapped as I was color blind. It was years later when I realized John was also color blind. Maybe that helped us understand each other. My inexperience in gold showed up quickly. My mapping at Sterling was good, but after mapping I drilled and had two interesting holes - one had 40 feet of 0.25 opt Au, and the other had 30 feet of 0.33 opt Au. I showed the assays to John, who was not impressed at all. I spent the next couple of years looking for better (gold was $35 an ounce in my first 6 years at Cordex-it was a different time). Cordex was fortunate in finding, developing, and placing Pinson and Dee (I think now it is called South Arturo) into production for its funding partners in its early days. We also found several deposits that were farmed out, including Florida Canyon, Hasbrouck, Sterling, Adams Goldfield, and Daisy/Secret Pass. Increases in the price of gold made all these of interest and they are being explored or mined today. In 1985 my career turned again when John told me he wanted me to take over Cordex. I thought he was retiring, as he was in his mid-sixties, but a year or so later it finally dawned on me that he had moved out to make room for me to advance. That was the kindest thing anyone has ever done for me. I was lucky again quickly after taking over Cordex. The first two properties we acquired and drilled were Daisy (aka Secret Pass) out of Beatty, and Marigold near Valmy. Both properties had merit, but Marigold was exceptional when we cut 75-125 foot blind intercepts running 0.06 to 0.25 opt Au in four of our first five holes, all in highly oxidized rock below 150-300 feet of alluvium. I knew from studying published maps that every stratigraphic unit dipped west along the west side of the Battle Mountain Range. We simply offset early Marigold drilling, which was done by VEK Associates, by moving to the east from where they had cut highly favorable, but not ore-grade, rocks at depth under alluvium. We had a geological success as the stratigraphy did shallow in the up-dip direction. Luckily it was also mineralized with gold.  My luck continued at Marigold when Doug McGibbon and I spotted an assessment hole that discovered the Stonehouse/Lone Tree orebody. My whole career seems to me to involve a great deal of luck. I suppose that scientists should not believe in luck, but it only takes a little while in the exploration business to become a believer. A few years after Marigold, jobs in upper level management of mining companies came forth. For once I made a thoughtful decision and stayed in Nevada, continuing on with the rocks and in exploration. We closed the Cordex office in June, 2019 having completed 50 years of continuous gold exploration in the Great Basin, all done on one and two year contracts. I am proud of many things other than making some discoveries. We were environmentally oriented early - winning the major Dupont Environmental Achievement Award among others. I am proud of our role in developing the first RC, angle-capable, track drill in Nevada with friends Lance and Lou Eklund, who took the risk, and put up the money. My partner at Cordex, Bruce Delaney, and I have moved to a small office where we still do consulting, mostly on Eastside, and we also occasionally sell access to our 50 years of files on Nevada gold prospects.  Gold prices are advancing now, and I must admit to dreaming of starting up once again.          

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Company Cordex Exploration Company

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