Too often we read about the impending “crisis” in the mining industry when all the old folk like me retire, supposedly taking our expertise away with us and leaving a void in the knowledge and experience field.
I have spent the past week in Cardiff and Johannesburg hearing variations on this theme all week. Some of the sixty years olds I talked to refuse to face the fact that they are aging and should now be focussing on turning over the reins to younger people. Some of the seventy years olds, still consulting and doing mining work, revel in their longevity and applaud the skill and success of the young engineers who have “stepped up,” and taken their place. Many of the thirty year-olds chaff at the conviction that they are able “to do it all,” yet have to wait it out as the oldies hang around, convinced of their ir-replace-ability.
Many years ago I left a company firm in the belief that I could not be replaced. Of course I soon was and those left behind told me: “It is like taking your hand out of a bucket of water. For a short time there is a hole, but soon the water is level, although maybe a bit lower down. Then before you know it, life fills the bucket and you are forgotten.”
Thus this Sunday message: do not ever become convinced of your ir-replace-ability. Move on with dignity when it is time to move. And be assured there is always somebody competent to step up and take your place, fulfill the needs, or change the world as the world changes.
Let me add a message to all young journalists however guided by old editors: no more articles in mining magazines about the pending crisis in the mining industry as old miners retire and there is a shortage of new miners to take over. The numbers may be correct, but the reality is that human nature will prevail and life will go on and mining will flourish as others step up to the needs and challenges.