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Mines battling to attract skilled people

Chamber of Mines says implementation of new projects is at risk in Zambia and other mining countries around the world due to the increasing shortage of specific skilled and experienced people.

According to a latest report by the Chamber of Mines titled ‘Searching for talent-skills and employment in the global mining industry’, the world’s mines are battling to attract skilled and experienced people.
It stated the skills most in demand across the global mining industry as a result of talent shortage are those critical to the daily operations of the mines.

“They are largely technical, such as engineers, geologists, metallurgists, technicians, mechanics and artisans,” it stated.

The report revealed that the immediate effect of the global mining skills crunch is that mines in Zambia and other countries are finding it increasingly difficult not just to attract skilled people, but also to retain them.

“There was a time when you could easily find four to five people to fill a high-level position. Now you battle to find just one,” Mopani Copper Mines chief executive officer Johan Jansen is quoted in the report.

The report, compiled by mining researcher Rob Gentle, cites three major reasons for the global shortage of high-level mining skills.

“The massive rise in global mineral production over the past 20 years, mainly to meet rising demand in China, has drained much of the world’s mining talent pool. Secondly, the industry is experiencing its biggest retirement wave in many decades, with up to half of the people in key skill categories nearing retirement.

“In Canada, one of the world’s largest mining countries, some 49,000 people will be needed in the next decade to replace retiring workers,” it stated.

The report cited the third reason as harsh working conditions, remote locations and long working hours that is making mining to be no longer an attractive career option as it once was.

“The truth is there are more attractive industries out there for mining graduates, with better work-life balance,” Barrick Lumwana general manager Sam Ash is quoted in the report.

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