Brain Drain in the Mining Business

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We are losing young people in the mining business and without them, the industry has no future. On the bright side, the young people who are sticking it out through the hellish situation could be in for a great recovery.”

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Every downturn results in layoffs at the bottom of the pile and every time that happens, we lose people that we need for the next upturn. This loss is permanent and has created a vacuum of skills. The old people keep and protect their jobs even though they are retiring in the next eight to ten years anyway. 

The capital cycle for mining companies is on and off every 18 months and droughts happen 1-2 times per decade, lasting 2-3 years. The only way to survive this when you are young is to work for a major or the government; if you work for small companies, there is no job security and no talent development for quality young technical people in the exploration business. 

On the other hand, most of the executives we see are gray-haired men in their 60s or 70s (making a guy in his 50s seem young). The old guys are waiting for one last score to retire and some of them are literally dying on the job. 

At this point, we have no young leadership and what we have are job losses on a daily basis, a significant reduction in older leadership and a capital market with an irregular money supply that makes it hard to keep young people in the business. Heck, working for Blackberry has more job security than working in the metals and mining space. This is killing off any promising young people and leaving in place the weakest who have no option to jump to any other field. 

It’s going to be hard to find a decent CEO in ten years. 

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