Here is an e-mail I received over the weekend. A typical mother concerned about her son, a mining engineer, who cannot find a job in mining either in Canada or Australia:
My son graduated from the University of Toronto in 2007 as a Mining Engineer. It took about 8 months to get his graduate-visa in order while still in Toronto and went to work for Patterson Mines in Kalgoorlie, Australia in May 2008. He was layed off the end of September 2008. He tried to get another job in Australia, but needless to say did not succeed and returned to Canada in May 2009, as his visa was about to expire, which could not be extended as he had no job. I just don’t know what to suggest to him. We hope things will get better. He is still trying to find a job in mining. Do you have any suggestions to keep him motivated.
I replied to her as follows:
May I suggest that your son take a look at the InfoMine, Careers section where he will find listed all the jobs available in mining. Also I would recommend to him that he post his resume on the InfoMine Careers section. It is easy and cheap to do. I am sure that as a Canadian mining engineer there are opportunities in Canada. In particular, the oil sands industry in Alberta is perennially short of mining engineers. I would recommend he seek to contact their personnel departments. Remind him that mining is an up and down business. All of us who have been in the mining industry for some time, have had to change jobs as the mining industry went up and down. He is not the first and certainly is not the last to have to face job losses in the mining industry. Probably the only way to avoid such job ups and downs is to get a job with one of the regulators. And I know they too are always looking.
A few hours later, the son sent me this e-mail: (I have his permission to post it.)
I check Infomine and MiscoJobs on a daily basis, but I haven’t posted my resume. I made contacts with over 20 companies at the PDAC convention last month, but nothing has panned out. My biggest mistake was deciding to take the year off after graduating, so I have less than a year’s experience, and since the financial crisis the big companies that hire most of the graduates haven’t had their usual intake. Companies seem to be recruiting again in Australia and the U.S., but my Australian Visa has expired, and U.S. companies don’t seem to be interested. Also, the fact that I speak French and am already fully trained in mining software doesn’t seem to make a difference to anyone in Canada or Africa, where I’ve been focusing my job search.
His resume is pretty reasonable. Here is some of the experience he lists:
- Prepared and implemented open-pit drill & blast designs using Surpac
- Coordinated drillers, blast crews, and surveyors
- Generated pit shells using Whittle 4X, created pit designs, and block model reports using Surpac
- Created waste dump and infrastructure designs for future projects using Surpac
- Developed and analyzed budgets and schedules (weekly, monthly, life of mine), and reconciled with up to date production using DataMine and Excel
- Responsible for accounting and ordering for drilling and blasting operations.
This situation intrigues me. Is it really that difficult as a young mining engineer to get a job in Canada? Is it that difficult to get a job as a mining engineer in Australia? Did he make a mistake taking a year off? Did he simply get caught in a layoff situation and thus lost his entre to the market? Is he making a mistake trying to work in Australia when he is a Canadian? Should he go back for another degree? Do mining engineers need higher degrees? Is he being too passive in simply checking the web—maybe he should be out knocking on doors?
I confess to little patience with Canadians who seem to believe that Australia is better than Canada and flock there to see red rocks sticking up out of the desert sand when they have not seen the Rockies or southwest Colorado. But then when I was young, the urge to be anywhere but at home was strong too–so we must forgive him for now.
I took time out after degrees. I forced my two elder kids to do the same. Sent them on “social research” for a year or two between diplomas and degrees of various sorts. Made them more reasonable and opened their eyes to the fact that I am not all that bad. So no fault, in my opinion, taking a year out. I took time out after various crashes in the mining industry left me without work. And somehow slide back into it in due course. So we must forgive him for now on that score.
What is he to do? I told him to go to Alberta and the oil sands mines. I cannot but believe they need more mining engineers, even those who lust after foreign climes.
If you have any suggestions, comment below, or send them to me, and I will add them to this blog. That way we may possibly help this young mining engineer and any others who may be in the same predicament.