Yesterday I lunched with three young engineers. Two have master’s degrees and the third is well on his way. Food was ususal Vancouver fare for hungry men: bento box filled with rice, sushi, tempura, and meat in deep, dark sauce.
I questioned them on the next thirty years of mining consulting. For they work with me in a consulting company whose clients are almost all mining companies.
What is the future of mining consulting? What are the specializations that will demand consultants to mines in the next thirty years? A lively debate ensued. And I lectured and harangued them on their opinions and plans.
I did this from a basis of thirty years consulting to mines and deep reflections on how things had change in the past thirty.
We know for certain that we old men of mining consulting will not be here in thirty years. We know these young men, my lunch companions, and others out there like or better than them will control consulting in thirty years. But are they ready, and how do we make them ready, were the questions that coursed through my brain as I harangued them. They fell silent, for the issues had never occurred to them. They are too wrapped up in the present: their girlfriends or lack thereof, the current demands to produce, the expense of property and how they will ever buy a place to live in Vancouver or any other city where there are mining consultants.
My mind fell back on the young woman who was flying back from a distant site. Others have opined that she is the most intelligent of the four and will make the best consultant. But these four need to move forward and I believe they should move forward together. I told them to read each other’s theses, to write papers together, to cogitate on how they could be the partners of a new thirty-years-hence consulting company. For I hate to think that they will become mere employees of another of those big, international consulting companies controlled by Wall Street, share price, and last-quarter returns. That is not life; that is simply existing; that is nine-to-five Dolly Parton disaster; and the extinction of person effort and pride.
Has there been a change of times and of human aspiration, I wondered. Thirty years ago the field was wide open. Houses were but two-times a young engineer’s salary. There were no big, well-organized consulting companies to the mining industry. And we struck out. Many failed; many succeeded; and all of us made an individual life of interest and fulfillment.
Now houses are ten times a young consulting engineer’s salary. People protest that they will take back Wall Street and will not stop “Until the rich are poor, and the poor are rich.” Utter bullshit if ever I heard bullshit.
Yet there are still young people making new mining companies. Mining Plus is one. Watch them; engage them if you want a new, vigorous, fresh energy at your mine.
It is still the same: new consulting companies to the mining industry can be founded and can succeed. It is still difficult; it still takes times and effort; it is still draining of energy and family life. So it is understandable that some will choose to demonstrate and grouse rather than act and innovate. It has always been easier to follow than to lead, to repeat than to innovate, to dabble in sport than to focus on engineering.
Thus I close this posting with ambiguous emotions. I know my lunch companions can do it. Yet I know they need a rude awakening to take a new path not before travelled. And if they do not do it, I am convinced that as always before in human history when the time has been auspicious, others will take new risks and go where we never dreamt.