The Role of Education in the Race to Zero Waste

Our industry is evolving. Senior leaders from across the mining sector are committed to developing the innovations and best practices required to build a more sustainable, profitable industry. But what about the next generation of leaders? In this blog post we’ll discuss the importance of education and training in equipping tomorrow’s leaders for the future of mining.

Why training must keep pace with technology

Many aspects of mining operations remained unchanged for decades, but the industry is now moving quickly to address the goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions. Developments such as electrification, alternative material transport, and mechanical cutting to replace drill and blast are helping us build the industry of the future. 

Mining has also entered the digital age, becoming increasingly automated. There is the risk of a skills gap for those entering the industry if education and training programs don’t keep pace with the rapid changes we are seeing in technology. Training in digital technology and innovation will help ensure that students are fully prepared to enter the workforce.

“Undergraduate education has traditionally focused on the basics of mining,” said Carl Weatherell, CMIC Executive Director and CEO. “As the industry evolves, mining companies will need graduates who are trained on more relevant trends, skills and disciplines to be ready to effectively perform in the mines of the future.” Some of these fields include the following:

    • Continuous underground mining
    • Continuous surface mining
    • Autonomy
    • Alternative haulage
    • Robotics
    • Advanced analytics
    • Mine design, modelling and simulation
    • Circular economy

Education for the long-term

“Capstone projects provide great experience for students,” said Weatherell. “But we would like to see more projects designed to help address longer-term mining challenges; fourth year projects comprising multi-disciplinary, cross-faculty teams that simulate industry experience with mining companies and suppliers.”

The fourth-year design projects deployed by mechanical and aerospace university programs focus successfully on such longer term objectives. Real examples from Carleton University include a brief to design, build and fly, in three to five years, an autonomous drone; or to design, build and test, in three to five years, an underground electrical vehicle for mining. These projects are multi-year, with teams that include multiple professors and industry sponsors.

Attracting top talent through education

When potential candidates see educational programs that are exciting, up-to-date and hands-on, that reflects an industry that is dynamic and progressive. This is how the next generation of leaders is attracted to industry.

CMIC’s goal as an organization is to see a 50 per cent reduction of the energy and water footprint of mining in ten years. The level of innovative thinking and open collaboration we see working toward that goal is the hallmark of an industry that is striding toward an exciting future. The right educational training programs will help our industry attract the next generation of tech-savvy, environmentally conscious innovators.

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Mike Stuart

Head of Sales , Intel