A call to all Canadian Mining Associations – by Russell Noble

Russell Noble is the editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. This column is from the February/March 2011 issue. rnoble@canadianminingjournal.com

Most industry associations aren’t worth a damn and that unfortunately holds true for many of those involved with mining here in Canada. They’re good at collecting dues and putting on Annual Meetings for their fraternity but aside from those events, little is done throughout the year for the good of their members at large and, more importantly, the industry they serve and represent.

To support my opinion, when was the last time you heard of any association affiliated with mining make headlines beyond their own Newsletter telling about all the good they are doing on behalf of the mining industry as a whole?

Sure we hear about meetings with various government officials or other regional dignitaries where “position papers” are given on the price of electricity or the importance of water, air and the rest of the environment, but what about concerns on a broader, national scale involving mining people and the growing scarcity of them?

What are the “mining associations” doing to address this problem?

In fairness, certain associations do recognize that the industry is running out of people; the AMEBC*, MANS*, OMA*, PDAC* and MAC* for examples, but on the whole there is no real “national voice” screaming out that the Canadian mining industry is growing desperate for workers.

As Van Zorbas of Deloitte Canada points out on Page 10 of this issue, the scarcity of talent is threatening the profitability of the industry and with more than 60,000 Canadian mining people about to retire by 2020 the situation is only going to get worse. Zorbas figures the industry will need an additional labour force of 100,000 people to keep it going.

So I ask you again, what are the associations affiliated with mining in Canada doing to help fill these vacancies?

In my opinion, not enough and I think it’s time they put their collective heads together and come up with a national ad campaign to recruit miners from the high schools, colleges, and even the universities across the country.

A national television ad campaign would probably work best but as we all know, it would be expensive, but I also think worth it, because the industry can’t afford to find itself without people in a few years. For the sake of a few hundred thousand dollars now, the mining industry will save millions later.

Without being asked, here’s what I see in terms of a television commercial or in a print-ad format to help bring new blood into mining.

Two things that capture almost every young person’s attention are money and excitement, so with that understanding, here’s my idea for an ad that may appeal to future miners.

Picture an ad or television commercial featuring a young person, gender doesn’t matter, operating a huge piece of expensive equipment and moving massive amounts of rock that’s just been blasted from the side of a mountain.

Pretty exciting stuff; but carrying the commercial a couple of steps further, picture that same person getting down from the machine at the end of the day, walking to a trailer to punch out, stowing their boots and dusty overalls in a locker, then walking out the other side of that same trailer into a waiting Mercedes or BMW and driving off into the sunset.

Music from Clint Eastwood’s “A Fistful of Dollars” would be in the background of the commercial as the words “Mining Pays Your Way to a Good Future,” or something along those lines appears.

In any event, something has to be done to attract the next generation to the mining industry, and it’s up to the associations that rely on it to get their acts together and come up with a truly national recruiting campaign. It’s not only for the good of the industry, it’s for the future of associations too because without people, “associations aren’t worth a damn!”
*Association of Mineral Exploration (British Columbia), *Mining Association of Nova Scotia, * Ontario Mining Association, *Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, and *Mining Association of Canada.