Human capital crucial in achieving US strategic minerals boom - report

Mining companies need to do much more to rebrand themselves and make the sector more attractive for young jobseekers.
Human capital crucial in achieving US strategic minerals boom - report Human capital crucial in achieving US strategic minerals boom - report Human capital crucial in achieving US strategic minerals boom - report Human capital crucial in achieving US strategic minerals boom - report Human capital crucial in achieving US strategic minerals boom - report

Recruitment is a key challenge for the mining sector.

US mining companies need to zero in on building their teams and stepping up their recruitment practices if they want to compete with China in the strategic minerals space, a new report has found.

The report, published by Washington think tank The Wilson Center, outlines what the US government and the mining industry need to do to approach dominance of the strategic and REE metals market.

Mining companies need to do much more to rebrand themselves and make the sector more attractive for young jobseekers, report author Duncan Wood said in a presentation Nov. 2.

"There's a real need to invest in the workforce," Wood said. "The business of mining has changed a great deal…there's more of a focus on technology, and the industry has been reducing the risk for its workers."

The sector should be highlighting how integral its role is in the development of the green economy, Wood said.

Enrollment in mining programs has declined by 12% from 2015-16 in Canadian universities, the report said. According to the Mining Industry Human Resources Council, the industry will need to hire between 29,000 and 48,000 new hires per year in the next five years.

Mining companies need to focus on skills development, and the opportunities in software development, designing and operating complex machinery, and developing new technologies. Working with higher education institutions is essential, he added.

Private companies also need to invest in their lifelong learning programs, ensuring that professional development programs are readily available to ensure the retention of top talent, the report said.

Putting more effort into remaking the sector's reputation will also bring rewards when it comes to investment, Woods said.

At the moment, investors are hesitant to sink capital into mining projects because of their long-term orientation and reputation as a dirty industry, Woods noted. The private sector needs to work alongside government and civil society groups to change the way the industry is perceived across the board.

Mining companies need to also increase investment in new technologies, which will potentially decrease delays to production starts, as well as attract new workers, the report said.