Attracting the best mining talent

May 30, 2022 | Article, Mining

A modern mining business relies on the best human talent, without which competitors will soon overtake it. The future mining workforce will differ vastly from the lonely prospector panning for gold nuggets in a stream. Our next generation mining professionals are now technically literate and highly qualified.

Throughout history, humans have been extracting minerals from the earth to improve the quality of life. Over the years, mining has evolved far beyond the original rudimentary hard-labour techniques. We no longer pan for gold in a stream or manually dig pits to reach the coal seam. In contrast to a few decades ago, today’s mine is highly automated and utilises advanced technology at every step of the process.  Technology is indispensable to efficiently extract minerals in hard-to-reach locations, be they deep underground or in remote areas.

Mining is also at the centre of coordinated global sustainability efforts. This means mines are finding new ways to produce renewable energy, reduce emissions, eliminate waste, and beneficiate materials that won’t harm the planet.  This is a strong drawcard for young professionals looking to make an impact on the planet.

Competing for the best talent

A modern mining business relies on the best human talent, without which competitors will soon overtake it. The future mining workforce will differ vastly from the lonely prospector panning for nuggets in a stream. Our next generation mining professionals are now technically literate and highly qualified. Many will only occasionally visit the mining site, using collaboration technologies like Microsoft Teams, Google Meet or Zoom that allows most of the work to be done from anywhere. 

Diverse and inclusive

To become more creative and productive means that the mining workforce must be diverse and inclusive. With increased automation and a reduction in heavy labour, the opportunity is there for women to excel in this historically male-dominated industry. Gender diversity is helped by technologies that support remote work, allowing mining companies to find and employ the best talent anywhere.

Despite the changes in technology; stereotypes that mining is a male-dominated industry continue to prevail. The International Labour Organisation found in 2019 that eleven of the top forty mining companies had no women in senior management positions. In Canada, (where there is good data), only about 16% of the mining workforce were women in 2018. The same study pointed out that these statistics related to the on-site crew and did not fully account for the extended workforce. With remote work technology enablers, the percentage of women working off the mining site is likely to be slightly higher, but still not at the 50% level for equal representation.

In an industry with such a shortage of top-end skills, there is undoubtedly an opportunity to tap into new talent that will futureproof the operation.

Achieving gender equality will require proactive steps to attract women to the industry, and then to retain the skills within the organisation once employed. According to the United Nations, gender equality is not a women’s issue; rather, the rights, responsibilities and opportunities should be equal among groups of men and women. The United Nations adds that equality is a precondition for sustainable people-centred development.

Mining companies will certainly benefit by embracing organisational agility and fast-paced innovation. Creating the right environment for men and women alike is a strategic imperative. It needs to be driven by transformational leadership.

The role of technology

Technology companies can play a role in this shift by showing how emerging technology solutions can facilitate a more diverse workforce.   As mentioned, collaboration tools and communications infrastructure enable location-independent work, thereby opening up new opportunities for women. It is quite possible to also support a significant portion of the exploration modelling, optimisation, day to day operations, and beneficiation activities remotely. Modern mines in Australia, for example, are leading automation efforts and reducing costs by centralising process and operational control in control rooms located in the major urban centres. These facilities can control equipment hundreds or even thousands of kilometres away. New 5G network capacity will create even more opportunities for remote monitoring and control of heavy equipment in the future.

For people who enjoy problem-solving, continuous learning, new challenges and making a positive contribution, mining can be a rewarding career choice. And with the technological enablers available to a modern mining company, there need be no reason that the number of women in the industry cannot increase substantially.

Within Adapt IT, we provide proven solutions for the daily running of a factory or mine. These include robust infrastructure, specialised software applications and related ICT services that help enhance operational performance, reduce risk, increase compliance, and achieve excellence. We believe strongly in the value of a diverse and inclusive culture. We hope to contribute and bring our enabling technologies to the mining industry in a way that aligns with the gender diversity goals of all our customers. 

For more information

Adapt IT Manufacturing provides digital solutions that enhance safety performance and operational excellence to help industrial companies achieve more. 

For more information on Adapt IT’s work in mining safety software, please contact Adapt IT.

For more information on gender equality in mining: 

International Labour Organisation, “Women in mining, towards gender equality”, ILO, 2021

Continue Reading

Adapt IT Co-Sponsors Mining Leaders Forum in Perth

Adapt IT Co-Sponsors Mining Leaders Forum in Perth

Mining leadership is facing many challenges and safety is one very important measure of their performance.   IntelliPERMIT enables leaders to effectively delegate routine safety tasks to a reliable proven system, and focus on the exceptions.  Implementation of IntelliPERMIT in a mining operation has many benefits including increased safety awareness, improved disciplines and increased productivity.