Sept/Oct 2016

Conference Board report projects growth in mining sector jobs over the next decade

By Kate Sheridan

There will be thousands of new jobs in the mining sector in the next decade, fuelled by millions of investment dollars and a wave of retirements, according to a Conference Board of Canada study released in July.

“The retirement of workers – more so than the expansion of the sector – will create the majority of the job openings in the resource sector,” the report stated.

The report studied 90 mining and oil and gas projects across the country, selected based on the likelihood that a project will move forward in the next decade, a company’s economic situation and a commodity’s projected price. Among the projects the report looked at were Noront Resources’ Eagle’s Nest mine, Goldcorp’s Coffee Gold project and the Jay Project at Dominion Diamond’s Ekati mine. The report projected companies will invest about $342 billion in the projects studied, with 20 per cent of that investment expected to go towards mining projects. The report also built in demographic data from Canadian surveys and the national census.

As the industry continues to recover from the downturn, the number of jobs available in the metal and non-metal mining sectors is expected to grow by 1.3 per cent annually, to 67,400 jobs in 2026 from 58,600 currently. Transport truck drivers, heavy equipment operators and managers will be especially in demand, the report stated. Most of the people hired for these jobs will be replacing older workers who retire and leave the workforce.

These job openings may be perfect for young indigenous people, the report stated. “Their population is growing faster than the Canadian population [as a whole], so they’re in a good position to take advantage of these job opportunities,” report author Marie-Christine Bernard told CIM Magazine. Around 30,000 indigenous people currently work in resource extraction.

The report noted many of the jobs expected to be available will require education and training, which will be crucial to ensure indigenous people can seize employment opportunities.

The federal government made a commitment in its 2016 budget to invest $4.2 billion over five years for education and training in indigenous communities. Kelly Lendsay, president and CEO of the Aboriginal Human Resources Council said he thinks “it will be the most important investment made in this decade.

“I think [mining companies] are going to have the opportunities to go further and deeper in terms of partnerships and relationships [with indigenous communities],” Lendsay noted.

The Conference Board’s labour force projections could change. “When we do a forecast like this, we consider the technology as it is today, but we also consider that there could be productivity improvements,” Bernard said. However, major technological changes, like more widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles, were not considered in the report.

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