‘What started out as a treasure hunt is now much more about how we make a lasting contribution to the communities we are working with,’ the CEO and geologist says
Eira Thomas is on the run. The annual results for her company, Vancouver-based Lucara Diamond Corp., are coming out in 11 days, and as its co-founder and chief executive, she is prepping for a round of board meetings and earnings presentations, including dashes to both Florida and Toronto for mining conferences.
Before that, she’s heading from her home in England to Morocco on a half-term school break with her two daughters. Plus, she’s experiencing such wretched technical glitches that she missed a Skype interview yesterday and had to rebook. Today, she apologetically comes on 24 minutes late, something so uncharacteristic that her personal assistant, who is in Zurich, has begun to worry. Life is a little frenetic, Thomas confesses.
Yet, when I ask her why diamonds hold such an allure, all of a sudden, the busy executive life seems to vanish. She savours her answer—and when it comes, it’s unexpected. Yes, there’s the thrill of the hunt. But she is a geologist, and so within the diamond she also reads the violent secrets of the inner Earth that created it billions of years ago, when the planet was much younger.
She sees the torrid pressures under the planet’s crust that long ago bound carbon atom to carbon atom and the convulsions that later flung them upward in a volcanic rush of magma, carrying them near enough to the surface for a tenacious miner to find. Thomas sees, in effect, time and story and mystery.
“The fact that we even get a chance to experience a diamond because it’s been unearthed in these ancient volcanoes is pretty unusual in itself,” she says. “The world we know and understand is all these geological processes that have formed us. Yes, it’s science, but it’s also history.”