While we view this as a temporary suspension, our challenge is that we’ve seen the price of zinc move from 76 cents to 48 cents in a month.
Down in Salt Lake City representatives of the governor attended the opening of operations by Cementation whose current USA projects are described thus:
Cementation USA’s main projects now are the excavation of a 28-foot diameter shaft, 7,000 feet down to a deep ore body outside of Phoenix; cutting an 11 percent grade ramp for Kennecott Minerals to a nickel and copper deposit in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula; and developing a shaft for Hecla Mining Co.’s Lucky Friday mine east of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
The report tells us that Cementation, an offshoot of South African company Murray & Roberts, plans to increase staff to 422 over the next decade. We note that this items is the only one in a list of ten that talks of increased employment in the mining industry. The other nine talk of job losses.
At the InfoMine Careers page, today”s newest five jobs include:
- Mine maintenance coordinator in Zambia
- Manager metallurgy and process engineering in New Jersey
- Senior supervisor mechanical maintenance in Arizona
- Senior civil construction superintendent in the “Western USA”
- Quality engineer in Tucson.
The same page lists 864 mining-related jobs in the USA, 1580 in Canada, 6116 in Australia, a mere 138 in the United Kingdom, 870 in South Africa, 1382 in Peru, 1518 in Brazil, and 637 in Chile.
At the conference Tailings & Mine Waste “08 I chatted with a mining engineer from Vancouver Island now just back from a two-year stint in Ghana reclaiming tailings impoundments. He told me he is ready to spend a few months in the winter of the island, but the is ready to go wherever the jobs are—including back to Africa.
The message from all this is that nothing has changed. Mining is ephemeral not sustainable. Mines come and go as the markets fluctuate. There is no guaranteed job, no guaranteed stay. There is only a fast moving industry that starts up and dies down on a month of price fluctuations.
I concede there are those BIG MINES run by BIG COMPANIES. And maybe they can provide you with a secure job and longevity in one place. Why they may even be able to generate a sustainable community around the mine that is unaffected by integrated world economic turmoil. In Vail I chatted with engineers working for Suncor and they gave thanks they are working for a big company with seemingly secure jobs. But let oil go below $50 a barrel and they too are insecure.
I have long been a consultant to the mining industry. Now that is an insecure job. At the first hint of declining profit, projects are cut, meetings cancelled, and your PO put on hold. I accept this as part of the way I have chosen to live–there are many compensations for this perpetual job insecurity—and many re-locations and house moves that have shown me a great deal of north America.
I recognize there are differences in mining-job security depending on whether you are an engineer, a geologist, a human resources manager, a miner (like my Dad used to be), an electrician, or a truck driver. But all have in common the one truth: mining is by its very nature ephemeral not sustainable. Your job is not and never can be guaranteed. You must accept change and relocation as constants that are part of the balance of benefits of working in the mining industry.