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Mining: It’s Not Just a Numbers Game

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One of my biggest pet peeves about the mining industry is how people forget that they’re working with other people, not just machines.

Mining is a tough industry and we’re interacting with equipment all day. Unfortunately some, they lose sight of the fact that there are people operating these machines — people with families and aspirations.

I hear it all the time: someone stays home sick from work, and the supervisor is, above all else, annoyed that they’re down a foreman or a machine operator. Instead of thinking, ‘I wonder why Rick didn’t come to work for the past two days. I hope everything’s alright,’ they think about the slight inconvenience it’ll cause them to find a replacement worker for the day.

On the latest episode of the Full Production podcast, I talk about this numbers game with a colleague of mine, Wade Greenwood. Wade is training and labour operations manager at FACE Contracting, and somebody I deeply respect. His career has taken him from being a boilermaker to deputy principal of a high school, and his worldview reflects this well-rounded resume.

Wade is all about training the next generation of miners in a way that’s sustainable. He advocates going to schools and speaking to students about the reality of mining: not just telling them about the money they can make, but showing them what the job is really like. Sometimes, these aren’t great things. They might spend 12 hours underground some days and be so tired they can barely lift their arms. But if you treat these students like people, being honest to them instead of focusing on pure recruitment numbers, you’re going to get better quality workers. Hands down.

As a whole, we try to instil the idea of valuing people over profit at FACE. If a new employee joins our organisation, we have ways for them to further their career and feel like they’re at home. If an employee is thinking about how they can save more money for retirement, we can set them up with somebody who will help them. If they’re wondering how they can get out of mining and into another career, we’ll give them somebody to talk to.

This is also what I’m trying to do with this podcast, Full Production. It’s a bit of an unorthodox idea, having a podcast about mining. But I want our industry to feel more like a community than a business. I love bringing on people like Wade or any of our other guests, real professionals who can tell their story and inspire a new generation of miners.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to education. This applies to both the new and the old guys. Folks who have been in the industry for a few decades, they’re probably not interested in changing the way they do things. It’s imperative, however, that we take a new attitude towards our industry. We need to value people, helping them succeed in any way possible.

Dissatisfaction in our industry is at an all-time high. Are we going to make it worse by continuing to treat people like cogs in a machine, or are we going to do what we can to inspire them?

Head on over and listen to the full episode here.