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Why We Should Focus More on Giving Back in the Mining Industry

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On this week’s Full Production, I got to talk to a brilliant guy named John Player. John is director and principal geotechnical engineer at MineGeoTech, a company that does ground support response and design, assessment of ground conditions at mining sites, interpretation of seismic data and a host of other services. If that sentence makes your head spin, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

John’s a smart guy and his company is doing great work. But something he mentioned that really made me think was how his company is focused on giving back to younger folks who are getting their education. MineGeoTech contributes to scholarships at various institutes, supports grant control groups and sponsors events, among other things.

“It’s only through education, John told me, “that you can make a difference.”

Great piece of wisdom, right? I think I’m not alone in being one of the senior level people in the mining industry who talks a lot about how much we need to focus on the next generation of workers. But how many of us actually put up in a way that MineGeoTech is doing?

John likely does this sort of giving back for a lot of reasons. One particular reason, however, is that it’s the best way to ensure that our industry can address some of the issues it has, like widespread skills shortages. A condition that John has for one group he supports is that when the members travel, they have to promise to see other mine sites. He wants them to see what happens on the ground, how sites are using new technology and meet different people in the industry.

Imagine if you got a chance to do that when you were coming up through the education system. If you had a chance to speak to people who could become your mentors or superiors, and really see what the work was like on the ground.

I think it’s pretty easy nowadays, especially with the kind of money our industry has, to focus on outcomes — what sort of people we’re bringing in, what we’re paying them. We lament a lack of quality workers, but where do quality workers come from in the first place? Yeah, paying them well helps. But don’t you think that educating them on how to be passionate employees and treating them well once they’re on the ground floor is a good way to inspire them as well?

This is a bit of a departure from the way that CEOs thought about recruitment when I was younger, and I’m sure most of you would agree. We can’t forget, though, that our new generation has so many opportunities in front of them. There are other industries that would be thrilled to take them on trips or treat them to a nice meal. Is there any reason we can’t be doing the same? Any reason we can’t set up scholarships and support university groups? Not just to make them think we’re their buddies before we hire them and send them underground, but to start them off on the right foot in their career, knowing they have people to rely on and look up to.

John’s story made me think quite a bit, and I hope he’s the sign of a great new trend in our industry.

Listen to my entire conversation with John here.