DRA's Pierre Julien reflects on the Canadian Mining Industry

Speaking to Global Business Reports, DRA Global's Executive Vice President, Pierre Julien, shared his perspective on the key role education plays in filling the talent gap, as well as highlighted Canadian mining industry trends for 2022. 

"There are a number of high profile issues such as decarbonization, water consumption, diversity & inclusion and digitization that are impacting the industry. Another big issue currently facing the industry is the scarcity of talent. There has been a huge uptick in mining projects and activity across a number of different commodities, such as copper, nickel, decarbonization metals and battery elements. This has resulted in a surging demand for people not only at the mine operations level, but also at project development and execution level across the board. During the last super cycle from 2008 to 2013, the demand for talent was filled by a number of retired professionals coming back to help plug the gap. However, many of these individuals are now between 75 and 85 years old and sufficient numbers will not come out of retirement this time around. Furthermore, we have seen a continuous decrease in university enrollments and graduates in mineral extraction and mineral resource programs" Julien told GB Reports.

"Another industry challenge, which relates to the scarcity of talent, is the image the mining industry has both in Canada and globally. There is a huge amount of cognitive dissonance between society in general and what the mining industry does. Unfortunately, the many efforts by various industry associations trying to improve the general public’s view of mining have not been able to move the dial, and the sector is still perceived in a negative light. We need to come up with a different plan of attack to engage a wider audience. Ironically, this negative view is actually decelerating decarbonization efforts."

“Today, Canadian mineral processors understand that if they are going to disrupt the environment, they need to ensure that they extract every ounce of possible value out the rock. The industry has thus always been incentivized to invest in advancing recovery technologies to reduce environmental impacts. The more metal that can be extracted out of what has already been mined, the less the environmental impact. There has also always been the goal to reduce costs, which means reducing energy consumption, which means reducing your carbon footprint."

"Although ESG has gained more significance in recent years, especially from an investment perspective, gradual technological advancements have allowed the industry to reduce pollutants by 98% since the 1970s" Julien said.

Today, carbon footprint is high on the agenda for mining companies. Technological advancements in the ability to simulate various mining methods and processing options from a carbon footprint and water consumption perspective are allowing the industry to properly account for the cost of water and carbon in project economics. This allows for better decisions to be taken that are better for the environment and for the bottom line.”

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