The Best Practices for Staffing in the Mining Industry

The mining industry is a big part of the Canadian economy. Because of our wealth of natural resources, Canada is one of the largest mining countries in the world, with mining companies employing hundreds of thousands of people across the nation. While mining workers are always in demand, and while employment within the mining industry continues to increase, finding the right workers can still be difficult. Mining is a very specialized field, requiring workers who are highly skilled labourers. In light of these challenges, here are some best practices for staffing in the mining industry.

Invest in Training

In the mining industry, being vigilant about personal and employee safety is imperative. Mining can be dangerous work; employees are regularly exposed to hazardous conditions where it is essential they have had the training necessary to know how to proceed. Mining requires skilled labour, and so as you begin to think about staffing, it is important that you also think about adequate training for new employees. Mining locations are often remote or isolated, so aid is not always easily accessible. Furthermore, since the mining takes place either outside or underground, the work is subject to sudden and extreme changes in weather and work conditions.

Statistics show that 40% of the mining industry is made up of workers who are fifty years old or older, and that by 2029, more than half of the current workforce will have retired, or been replaced. This means that increasingly, the mining industry will have to rely on younger, less experienced workers to fill positions previously occupied by older, seasoned workers. The influx of younger and more inexperienced workers means that thorough and intense training will be of vital importance to the health of your company, and overall workforce.

It is essential that you have a strong training system in place, and that this system is clearly communicated to upper and lower management. As you go about staffing, it’s also very important that the risks involved with mining and the need for specialized training are clearly communicated to potential candidates. There is often a significant disconnect between what people believe mining work looks like, and what it actually is. Thoroughly vetting candidates to make sure they are aware of the skills necessary, and are willing and able to put in the work to acquire those skills, is of the utmost importance.

Consider Contractors

Increasingly, contractors are being used more and more to staff mining jobs. According to a poll by Ardent Partners, by 2017, contingent workers (including independent contractors, statement-of-work-based labour, and freelancers) will account for almost 45 percent of the world’s total workforce. There are several reasons for this. One is that by using contractors, you can reduce employment costs. Hiring full-time workers means providing health insurance, vacation time, and potentially workers’ compensation. Those costs are eliminated when staffing with contractors.

Further, mining work also often requires a great deal of specialization; miners are carrying out specific tasks that require large amounts of training in order to be performed properly. Contractors are much more specialized then other employees, since they are often trained for a specific job. Contractors who are able to carry out specialized work are hugely advantageous to the mining industry. Finally, mining work is not always consistent. Depending on what resources you are mining, the workload can be dependent on a cycle that is out of your control. Contractors are only hired for specific—and usually short—periods of time, which works well in an industry that doesn’t always have a steady stream of work. For these reasons, when it comes to staffing, it is worth it to consider employing contract workers.

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Jonathan Huyda

Jonathan Huyda

Jonathan is the Managing Director at Ian Martin. His goal at work is to take clients’ staffing problems and find ways to make them go ‘poof’. When not recruiting that next great hire, he can be found working on jigsaw puzzles or checking the scores in his fantasy pools.
Jonathan Huyda