Growing Mineral Demands Mean Jobs and Career Opportunities

Posted on December 06, 2021 by Minerals Make Life

Each year on December 6, we celebrate National Miners Day. This observance serves as an important reminder of how the efforts of U.S. miners have and will continue to provide the foundation of supply chains that feed into nearly every sector of the economy and support our national defense. Working behind the scenes, miners are responsible for generating nearly one-fifth of the national GDP and the industry itself supports more than 1.2 million high-paying jobs that benefit all Americans.

The mining industry offers hundreds of different job opportunities and is a rewarding career path for individuals who want to be part of a team that is utilizing cutting-edge technologies to deliver materials needed for infrastructure reinvestment, the reshoring of essential supply chains, climate solutions and economic growth.

Here is why mining should be placed among the smartest career choices for the next generation.

Opportunities for a Rewarding Career

The mining industry employs a broad set of workers and talented individuals from operators and technicians to surveyors and environmental professionals. Given the extensive time and effort that goes into locating, planning, permitting, developing, producing and processing minerals, there are a wide range of high-paying job opportunities. The average minerals mining salary is over $80,000, which is well above the national average. Some jobs such as engineers, geologists and geophysicists require advanced degrees from schools and universities that offer specialized programs and training, but not all.

Here are examples of the types of jobs that are available at nearly every mine site:

  • Excavator operators use heavy machinery and haul trucks to move raw materials.
  • Geologic technicians support mine engineers in exploring, extracting, and monitoring mineral resources.
  • Surveyors assist with updating layouts and keeping records to maintain a proper mine plan.
  • Mine/Mill Supervisors oversee all aspects of front-line mine operations and production processes.
  • Health Safety & Environmental professionals help to maintain efficient operations while reducing risks to people, property and the environment.
  • Geophysicists study the earth by conducting surveys to locate minerals and other resources.
  • Metallurgists are focused on the extraction and processing of various metals.
  • Geologists in either mine or exploration specialties can be responsible for resource discovery and evaluation.
  • Engineers cover a variety of specialties and roles, including drill and blast as well as materials and handling.

A Growing and Technical Workforce

The world’s growing demand for minerals means the mining workforce will need to grow with it. The mining industry is a highly technical field that already employs leading technology in autonomy, mobility, active safety, and advanced data and analytics. These capabilities require a more technical workforce yet attracting and retaining great talent is a challenge. According to a 2019 report from the Mining Industry Human Resources Council, enrollment in undergraduate mining engineering programs has declined in recent years. At the same time, the latest predictions show a need for between 29,000 and 48,000 new hires in the next five years.

As a result, many companies are offering benefits such as development and training opportunities, including leadership training; hiring and retention bonuses; daycare; recruitment programs for active and former military personnel; and a focus on a values-based culture.

In addition, today’s workers want to be a part of positive change and mining companies are engaging with the communities in which they work to provide a rewarding experience for their employees. Coeur Mining, for example, has a partnership with By The Hand Club For Kids, an after-school program that helps children who live in Chicago’s under-resourced neighborhoods and introduces them to opportunities, mentors and experiences they may not have otherwise experienced. This past summer, they were thrilled to welcome a By The Hand “kid,” now a college freshman, as a summer intern, and introduced him to a career in mining from their corporate headquarters in downtown Chicago.

Miners Will Power the Future

As the nation’s push for climate-neutral energy solutions and economies continue to electrify, the demand for mineral-laden technologies will grow across nearly every sector. In the U.S., ambitious net-zero goals and plans to overhaul our country’s infrastructure and energy systems will require more minerals being produced each year than ever previously thought possible; this increasing demand inevitably goes hand-in-hand with remarkable career opportunities.

Lithium Americas President and CEO Jon Evans says, “I’m contacted regularly by young people asking to join our team because they understand we’re providing essential materials for decreasing our carbon emissions. We recently added a Process Engineer finishing up her PhD from Penn State who reached out saying she wanted to be a part of what we’re doing to electrify our economy.”

The culture of modern mining continues to evolve alongside technological advancements, placing innovation among the highest of priorities. From grant funding to cutting-edge research programs, there’s a craving for bright minds and forward-thinking ideas.

To explore opportunities in the mining industry, see here: Mining Schools and Universities

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