PDAC NEWS RELEASE: Human Resources Issues Threaten Canada’s Mineral Exploration Supremacy

For Immediate Release

Sept. 30, 2011

To read the complete report click here: Unearthing Possibilities

Canada’s position as the global leader in mineral exploration is at risk because of a human resources triple threat, according to a study released today by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) and the Mining Industry Human Resources (MiHR) Council.  

Unearthing Possibilities:  Human Resources Challenges and Opportunities in the Canadian Mineral Exploration Sector says Canada’s mineral exploration industry faces challenges on three critical fronts:  a lack of awareness about the exploration sector and its many related career opportunities; a thinning labour pool that is affecting companies’ recruitment efforts; and attrition that sees many versatile, multi-skilled professionals leave the sector in mid-career.

“The worldwide demand for skilled labour in this sector is constantly increasing and driving up the cost of human resources,” says Dr. Scott Jobin-Bevans, PDAC president.  “We have to work harder to attract more Canadians to this industry.”

In an increasingly globalized economy that prizes highly educated, multi-skilled workers, Canada will continue to lose mineral exploration professionals and its decades-long number one ranking in mineral exploration may quickly change. 

This sector is characterized as having high and rising educational requirements.  The proportion of the workforce with a college or university degree has always been above average and continues to increase.  In fact, the number of workers with a university degree across all sectors in Canada is approximately 22 percent.  Among mineral exploration workers, 52 percent hold a university degree and many have advanced secondary degrees.

PDAC partnered with MiHR to develop Unearthing Possibilities, which includes a series of recommendations.

To address the sector’s awareness challenge, the report suggests that teachers, guidance counsellors and school boards more actively promote exploration careers while it also calls for developing an experiential-based, earth science/geology curriculum for middle school students, “an ideal age group for exposure to mineral exploration.”

To ease recruitment issues, the report says industry and training institutions must better communicate to help ensure that candidates are ready to work.  The report specifically cites the value of co-op programs, work placements and mentorships in this area.

The study suggests that nearly all mineral explorers seek five things in their employment: (1) competitive compensation; (2) intellectual challenge and a job where they can apply all their knowledge and use their skills; (3) training; (4) advancement opportunities; and (5) independence. Companies that integrate these motivators into job postings and offers will recruit more successfully than those that do not.

The report does however highlight specific areas for action. “This new information provides industry and government with a starting point to better understand where the opportunities are,” notes PDAC Executive Director Ross Gallinger. “It is critical that industry, educators and government work together to improve this situation.”

PDAC reaches out to elementary and high school students and educators through PDAC Mining Matters, a charitable organization dedicated to bringing the wonders of Canada’s geology and mineral resource endowment into the classroom through the production and implementation of educational resources.

It also hosts the annual Student-Industry Mineral Exploration Workshop (S-IMEW), a two-week workshop that over the past five years has provided more than 120 post-secondary students from across Canada with an opportunity to gain first-hand experience of the mineral exploration industry.

PDAC represents the Canadian mineral exploration and development industry and has a strong interest in the sector’s labour market issues.  The association is best known for its annual convention. Held every March in Toronto, it is the world’s largest annual mineral industry conference and this year we had more than 27,000 delegates – a new record – with representation from 120 countries.

For more information, please contact:

Greg MacDonald, PDAC Communications Specialist
416-362-1969 ext. 233
647-455-6567 (cell)