The mining industry faces enormous challenges and indeed opportunities for top talent to thrive. Over supply of certain resources, spectacular increase in demand for others, uncertainty in mining regulation especially in some crucial developing countries, slowing economic growth in territories with the highest demand for metals and minerals, are to name just a few.
Adding to this, the industry is under continuous pressure to step up its CSR game and minimise its carbon footprint. These pressures will require a paradigm shift by the established players or alternately, the attraction of new talent and ideas from other industries. Either way, the ability of senior management to drive the change agenda and create organisations that can effectively adapt to change is more critical now than ever.
“In today’s constantly changing environment, leaders must constantly refocus their vision and develop and implement new strategies to reinvent their businesses and cater for current and future challenges. The ability to create an agile business that can take advantage of opportunities in a rapidly changing environment is a critical skill of future leaders,” says Executive Search professional Joe Screnci.
New technology and operating models
As with any industry, technology is driving significant change into the global mining sector that brings about new operating platforms that drive more economically focussed mining methods that in turn increase profitability. Amongst other matters, this requires a need for new and more advanced machinery and automation out in the field, enabling economic extraction in the remotest areas and harshest conditions. Work processes influenced by the lean methods of the process industry influences more and more mining operations, allowing increased output and significant HSE improvements.
However, the shift in the industry will be broader than machinery and lean working. To be able to stay ahead of the game mining companies need to implement the latest technologies such as autonomous vehicles and increase data collection and analysis and use this to improve feasibility studies, extraction methods, productivity, transport and pricing. This data in turn needs to be accessible and protected.
Screnci: “Where historically, mining attracts engineers, geologists and other similar technically qualified talent, they now also need people with solid understanding of data collection, IoT, artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous vehicles, cyber security and the latest technologies to improve environmental outcomes.
New technology now provides mining companies more efficient ways of tracking what they produce, securing their value and use, and providing a clear traceable supply chain from extraction to final product. However, most companies have not yet embraced these opportunities. If they want to increase revenue and continue to grow, they need people capable of investigating its potential and how to put it to use. This new breed of talent has very specific skill sets and typically needs to be sourced from other industries and potentially, from other countries.”
Corporate Social Responsibility
It’s clear that mining companies need to include the interests of consumers, policy makers, shareholders and other stakeholders in their decision making. The industry often gets criticised by special interest groups, communities, policy makers and other stakeholders who are concerned about the ongoing change to the planet’s surface and subsequent environmental impacts. Despite serious efforts, the response to these increasing concerns is often considered too little and too slow. Natural resources are still in high demand but, in the mind of consumers, there is a thin line between extraction and exhaustion.
“A big part of a company’s success is support from the community. Mining companies could be at the forefront of the green shift everybody is talking about but a substantial change in perspective is required and partnering with communities is just one aspect of this. It also calls for solid investments in more efficient and less energy intensive ways to mine. Both will require very specific skills and a search for talent new to the industry.”