Dr Elder is a geology graduate of Durham University and held a post-graduate NATO Scholarship at the Universities of Oslo and Durham, his doctorate being awarded in 1964. From 1964 to 1982 he ran exploration programmes in the UK, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greenland for Cominco Ltd. In 1982 he joined BP Minerals and was appointed European, then Global Exploration Manager. The latter position entailed management of a total of eighteen countries, a geo-scientific staff of more than 150 and an annual budget of up to US$65 million. Rio Tinto acquired BP Minerals in 1989, where his role involved assessing and recommending exploration discoveries for development or disposal. Stepping down from Rio in 1995, he was appointed President and CEO of TSX-V and AIM-listed Mano River Resources Inc. in 1998, making gold, iron ore and diamond discoveries in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea which subsequently went into production. From 2002 to 2011 he was a non-executive director of Centamin Egypt Ltd during the period the company put the Sukari gold project into production.