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Legends of Major Drilling Suriname Mark Big Milestones

By July 5, 2023September 18th, 2023No Comments

For every drilled meter, there’s a tale behind it. The vast number of meters drilled, blasted and cored by five longtimers of the Major Drilling Suriname Branch are proof. They’ve written history as legendary specialized drilling experts who represent a distinct chapter in Major Drilling’s story.

One of those living legends is Marc Poisson, Senior Operations Manager for Guyana Shield. In June 2023, he celebrated five decades in the drilling business. He’s the enthusiastic, energetic force leading operations for Major Drilling in Suriname, British Guyana and French Guyana. He has a passion for an industry that is uniquely challenging, adventurous and ever changing.

Marc Poisson (left), Major Drilling Senior Operations Manager, Guyana Shield, received special recognition from Marc Turcot, Guyana Shield General Manager.

Poisson (in red) celebrates his career golden jubilee with fellow specialized drilling experts who have spent three and four decades in the drilling business.

“There is no better schooling than that of experience,” Marc Turcot, Major Drilling General Manager Guyana Shield, said. “Marc Poisson has played a huge part of the Suriname Branch’s success over the years by allowing our leaders to draw on his knowledge to pass it on to local employees to make them more professional at all levels.”

While working for Bradley Group, Marc Poisson led drilling teams at sites all around the world. Clockwise from top left: Boka Project, Yunnan Province, China, summer 2004; Merian Project for Newmont Gold, Suriname, spring 2006; Barrick Gold Pueblo Viejo Project, Maimon, Dominican Republic, fall 2007; Inmaculada Project in the Andes Mountains, Peru, spring 2010. Photo credit: Marc Poisson personal photos

Poisson’s is the kind of drilling experience collected over a lifetime of early exposure and family involvement. He felt and heard the hum of the drill beginning at age six in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, Canada. On June 4, 1973, his career officially began with Bradley Group when he became the company’s youngest driller at age 17. He quickly flew through the ranks of supervisor, field manager, and branch manager, including his first branch outside of Canada (Venezuela).

Major Drilling conducts specialized drilling operations at Newmont’s Merian Mine. Teams are proud to uphold safety as a top priority.

By 1997, he became regional branch manager based in Peru. For the next three decades, South America would hold him and his heart. When Bradley Group was acquired by Major Drilling in 2011, Poisson transitioned and established the Major Drilling Brazil Branch for a year. He then worked for competitors during what he thought were the final months of his career. And yet, just as he returned to Canada preparing for retirement, in 2017, Major Drilling wooed him back to South America and convinced him to strengthen operations in Suriname.

Title Senior Operations Manager, Guyana Shield
Experience 50 years (20 Canada, 30 overseas)
Countries where he’s worked Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, English Guyana, French Guyana, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Suriname, Venezuela
Main objective To make clients happy
His name for drillers he’s trained “My boys”
Biggest changes during his career Improved safety, hole depth

Major Drilling in Suriname

Major Drilling’s specialized drilling operations in Suriname and the entire Guyana Shield support clients including Newmont, IAMGOLD, Rosebel Gold Mines N.V. (Zijin) and Reunion Gold Corp.

Major Drilling established operations in Suriname in 1995 to meet demand for gold exploration. Starting out with a few coring rigs, work evolved to include RC exploration, RC grade control, horizontal drilling for pit dewatering, large vertical diameter dewater wells and now pre-shear drilling.

“We are happy to have many longtime relationships with our clients in Suriname,” Ashley Martin, VP Latin American Operations, said. “We continue to grow with our strategic partners in the region.”

Busily drilling and blasting and RC drilling, Major Drilling teams are well trained through the mentorship they get from Poisson. This leads to positive results and happy clients.

In 2020, Major Drilling teams operate a pit dewatering program at the IAMGOLD Saramacca Mine.

Satisfaction is Poisson’s main goal for clients, and it sometimes comes in surprising ways. He recalls a time when a client that once hired a competitor that offered a lower price. After six months, the client asked him to rebid the job at the price it would take to get him to do it right—because it was worth it.

“These are the best stories to me,” he said. “Even though the client was a little embarrassed on the phone for the rebid, it was very satisfying to me to know that they knew who could do the job right.”

A Leading Legacy

Poisson is also finding a lot of joy from seeing the drillers he trained progress on their own paths in the industry. “Some of my boys I taught are oldtimers now,” he said. “They are like family to me.”

This feeling stems from his own early experience accompanying his brothers, father and uncles to the drills just steps from his childhood home. Quick to extoll the accomplishments of others, Poisson proudly shares that among “his boys” are three members of the Major Drilling management teams in Mexico and the Philippines.

Claude Brunet is Diamond Drilling Operations Manager at Major Drilling’s Branch in Hermosillo, Mexico. Poisson admires the Brunet family who raised multiple generations of drillers, some of whom operated steam drills used in the early 1900s to 1950s. “Claude comes from the same village as me and was actually my neighbor,” Poisson warmly recalls. “Like me, he’s also a passionate guy that was born in a drill shack.”

Like Brunet, Simon Arsenault is also a leader at the Major Drilling Mexico Branch, trained by Poisson. He is RC Operations Manager and started with Poisson in China in 2004. That same initiation applies to Daniel Paradis, now Branch Manager for Major Drilling Philippines.

As for his team in Suriname, Poisson continues to cultivate a new generation of drillers. He creates an ambiance of camaraderie by seeking out who is the best to work with, by finding those who can take challenges, and best of all, by discovering who likes to have fun and do good work.

“I like to meet with my drillers and talk about the drill. It is fun,” he said. “After that, what is left is to do a good job, improve production, improve and invent new ways to work.”

Poisson celebrated his distinctive golden jubilee at a memory-filled barbecue in his honor at the Suriname Branch workshop in Paramaribo. He was delighted to be surrounded by his colleagues who are also marking major milestones in 2023.

More Suriname Leadership Expertise

Title Foreman in Suriname and French Guyana since 2019
Experience 40 years (1983)
Countries where he’s worked Argentina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, French Guyana, Mexico, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Panama, Portugal, Suriname, Tanzania, Venezuela
First job Started as a helper in 1983 in Val-d’Or, Quebec, Canada
Impressive stat Drilled holes down to 2,500 meters NQ in Tanzania
Best part of his job Taking a Major 50 drill to a new location

Another well-known longtimer is Mario Landry. “When you assign a task to Mario you can trust that it will always be accomplished no matter the hurdles,” Suriname General Manager Marc Turcot said. “He knows how to turn lemons into lemonade.”

Like Poisson, Landry began his career in Canada then made his way south as drilling contracts ebbed and flowed with cycles in the mining industry. He began with Major Drilling in 1983 in Quebec, then moved to Venezuela and worked for the company until 2010. After a nine-year hiatus, he returned to Major Drilling where he continues to guide drilling teams as a dynamic, well-regarded leader.

Mario Landry in January 2023 while working at the Paramaribo, Suriname workshop.

Fascinatingly, a favorite part of his work is the challenge of relocating drills and equipment. “Moving this equipment from one drilling site to another drilling platform is a great challenge every time,” Landry said.

He always pays close attention to detail, and like Poisson, has the kind of goal-oriented attitude that younger drillers can admire. That means whatever the task and the associated hurdles, it will be accomplished.

Additional Suriname Branch longtimers with Poisson and Landry include Michel Ouellette, Claude Roy and Pascal Dube. Together, these five specialized drilling experts have 214 years of experience in the industry.

Title Special Projects Manager
Experience 40 years (1983)
Countries where he’s worked Burkina Faso, Canada, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, Peru, Philippines, Suriname, USA
Main goal “I always focus on how we can improve the work for safety and workers’ wellbeing!”
Notable skills Works with robotics and automated rod handling. Has certifications in welding and as Trainer for the Common Core in Canada
Current focus Works on special projects developing a rod handler and inner tube handler
Fun fact Was a welder for four years
Title Project Manager
Experience 45 years (1978)
Countries where he’s worked Canada, English Guyana, French Guyana, Ghana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela
First job Drill helper in Chibougamau, Quebec, Canada
Impressive stat Known as the best deep-hole driller for St-Lamber Drilling Co. in Canada during the 1980s and 1990s
Fun Fact Leads directional drilling operations for Major Drilling’s three Guyana Shield branches
Title Project Supervisor / Master Mechanic and Welder
Experience 39 years (1984)
Countries where he’s worked Argentina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, French Guyana, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Suriname
First job Drill helper for DW Coats Drilling in Northern QC, Canada
Impressive stat He organized startup and organization of operations and maintenance for three Major Drilling Branches: Mexico, Chile and Argentina
Special skills He can repair any piece of machinery or equipment in the shop or in the jungle. A drill rig will never stop turning for breakdown when Pascal is around
Fun fact In Peru, he built reliable portable drill rigs for remote projects in the Andes

“We’re very proud of these founding members of our teams. They continue to lead, guide and carry forward our purposes in Suriname and with excellent results for our clients,” Turcot said.

Contact the Major Drilling Suriname Branch to learn more about specialized drilling services available in the region.

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