A Career in Mining – More than Meets the Eye

A Career in Mining – More than Meets the Eye
A 2019 Stats Canada report stated, “Mining has the potential to create thousands of new, long-lasting, rewarding, high-quality jobs and careers for young people all over Manitoba as electricians, builders, engineers, geologists, safety officers, etc. with wages double the provincial average.”

A recent study by the Mining Association of Manitoba Inc. (MAMI) found that over 90% of youth identified themselves as being uninformed about mining in our province. That also means they are unaware of these incredible career opportunities. In the same survey, over 50% agreed that a growing mining sector is good for Manitoba. Young people exploring new career opportunities may see the promise that growth in this sector could mean for them.

Stacy Kennedy, President of the Mining Association of Manitoba (MAMI), urges young people to consider the unlimited possibilities for exciting life-long careers in the mining sector.  “Take the time to be open, to be informed, and to ask somebody involved in the field. People who are thinking about their career need to be open to listening, because I think they would be very surprised, and it may spark them to want to have a career in mining.”

Opportunities and support above and below ground

Richard Trudeau, Director of Human Resources, Indigenous External Affairs for Hudbay Minerals in Flin Flon, Manitoba, believes the technologies that are now being used make mining more attractive for more candidates. “It was more labor intensive before, but now that the industry is using technology to improve safety and efficiency — for example, we’ve got occupations where employees are sitting on surface and remotely controlling equipment underground — and with the introduction of battery electric vehicles underground, it has created a much cleaner, safer, and more efficient work environment.”

Trudeau shares how as technology grows, the careers developed to support mining also grow. “Some of that technology requires techniques and certain specialists. But not only that, we need surveyors, ventilation experts, and planners for the operation. So, it’s not just the miner that’s drilling a hole underground. It’s a complete support staff of highly technical people supporting that business underground.”

Discover a whole new world

Scott Anderson, Vice-President, Exploration for 1911 Gold Corporation, adds that the opportunities truly are, endless. “You can be a welder, millwright, electrician, mechanic, geologist, engineer, environmental technologist, chemist, metallurgist, miner – there’s so many careers.”

His love of geology began in university where he first discovered how spellbinding it is. “It tells the story of how the earth formed and it’s really unraveling one of the most fascinating puzzles you could possibly tackle.”

He has never regretted his career choice. “In general, exploration careers are quite well-paying, so it really is an opportunity to travel, to explore the world, make a good living, and apply science to really challenging problems that relate fundamentally to how the earth formed.”

Need for a diverse workforce

Laura Winter, a senior project geologist with Orix Geoscience Inc., agrees about the endless career opportunities in mining, spanning all genders. “There’s a need for a skilled workforce in the profession such as geologists and geophysicists and engineers and all those kinds of technical people. But not only that, we need a labor workforce as well. So, if you’re doing anything from starting on early stages and stripping out crops, washing-out crops, sampling and channeling surveys, and then if you get into the mining stage, there’s obviously heavy machinery and equipment that needs to be operated, and then you start building a need for other infrastructure too.”

It doesn’t stop there. “That also creates other jobs and maintaining and building roads and building communities. So then you have all these people that are coming to that area for exploration or mining. This creates the need for someplace to house and feed all these people, and maybe there’s other specializations in that area that people are going to enjoy. There’s a great need for a skilled workforce in a variety of sectors.”

Winter also talks about the need for a diverse workforce. “There is a gap, and more opportunities need to be given to women and other diverse groups. So not just hiring people, but getting those positions filled that are upper management and into the board level.”

Just do it

Joey Champagne, Operations Director of Tantalum Mining Corporation of Canada Ltd. (TANCO), and a member of the MAMI Board of Directors, is another believer in the unlimited possibilities for careers in mining. He comments on how so many of those who have found rewarding careers in the sector came to it unexpectedly. “A lot of people go to school to become a millwright or an electrician or a welder, and maybe they’re thinking they’ll do some local commercial style jobs, but instead they end up being a really important and valuable member of the mine in those communities.”

He continues, “When I think of careers in mining, the first thing that I always tell people is to just get your name in the mix, because you’ll be amazed at how many different opportunities are out there – whether it be from the geology end and finding the minerals, to metallurgy and extracting them, to laboratory technicians, to operations and maintenance, to basically running the operations that keeps everything going. So, when you think of mining and the opportunities it contains, it’s full cycle all the way from finding the materials and taking them out of the ground, to making sure that we’re remediating everything at the end of the mine’s life as well.”

Champagne also highlights how mining is a higher-paying field than a lot of other industries in the region. But for him, it’s not just about money. “What you discover from a safety and compliance standpoint is what ultimately keeps you there. It’s something you can be very proud of, being part of a culture where your employer looks out for you and your wellbeing and the people that you’re working with. There’s a kinship and camaraderie in mining, regardless of a person’s role or position. Everybody cares about one another.”

Like Champagne, Trudeau also comments on how the safety-centric culture makes the job even more appealing.  It is part of the health and safety of employees, which is always a paramount. “It’s really an education for employees. We train constantly on safety — what are the risks out there and what they can do to mitigate that risk so that they’re safe at shift every day.” He says it is never a “one-time training thing. It’s training that continues throughout their career and really developing lifesaving rules that the employee must follow at all times to stay safe.”

Kennedy adds, “It’s the rules and regulations, the rigor that goes into ensuring safe work environments both underground and on the surface, proximity detection with equipment, etc. I think it’s safer to go for a walk underground than it is through a parking lot at a mall. So there’s much more to it than meets the eye.”

She sees opportunities in education, ensuring that people have access to the skill sets that will be needed for a variety of roles. “We are working with organizations like University College of the North and other educational institutions to ensure we have workforce readiness and accessibility for trades and other technical positions that match to the demands of the industry.”

“It’s definitely a good time for people to consider a career in mining,” concludes Champagne. “There’s a lot of opportunity in many different fields in this industry, and you’d be amazed that with backgrounds from many different regions what you can bring to the table and help with continually improving what we’re doing every day.”

Top careers in mining: 

  • Exploration, resource and mine geologists
  • Geophysicist
  • Mechanical, electrical, civil and mine engineers
  • Chemist
  • Welder
  • Mechanic
  • Electrician
  • Miner
  • Heavy machine operator
  • Administration
  • Plant manager
  • Driller
  • Millwright
  • Metallurgist
  • Environmental technologist
  • Nurse
  • Accountant
  • Human resources
  • Investor relations
  • Financial analyst
  • Health and safety officer
  • Mill operator
  • Administrative assistant
  • Purchasing
  • Warehousing

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