Hiring For Technical Expertise in the Midst of a Talent Shortage

Published:12/30/2019 | Posted by

Today’s mining sector is struggling to find qualified and capable technical talent at a time when the industry faces challenges related to the cyclical nature of the mining industry. In 2019, the market rebounded nicely, creating a competitive environment for companies to attract and retain strong technical talent.  An internal Resource Capital Fund study earlier this year reported that 107 mining projects went from feasibility study through to construction and were 38% over budget, on average. This statistic indicates poor planning and engineering that could have been improved with more talent at the project and operational level.

As the industry recovers from the downturn, it appears that this “slowdown” was further exacerbated by a skills and generational “gap” with many mining professionals deciding to leave the industry, take early retirement, or start their own consulting firms to serve the industry.  Through our own experiences and from direct conversations with our clients, we continue to find that there is a generational and skills gap for technical roles, especially for expatriates that need to operate in international remote locations.  Additional factors such as growth in production, complex rules and regulations, as well as VISA requirements in some parts of the world, have all contributed to creating limitations in the available pool of candidates required by employers.

This year we have seen an increased demand for highly technical positions in the mining sector both nationally and abroad. Opportunities such as Exploration Professionals, Mine Engineers and Chief Mine Engineers as well as Geologists are highly sought after.  There is also a strong drive to hire experienced, finance professionals at mine sites to ensure projects and operations are running efficiently.  Due to pressure from external shareholders, there is little room for error and nothing less than operational excellence is expected.

As we approach 2020, there is an increase in exploration spending in non-ferrous metals, representing the first annual increase in exploration in over 6 years. This current growth is in great part attributed to the stability in the precious metals market, in particular the gold sector, which is a large component of the non-ferrous global exploration budgets. We foresee a very solid finish to 2019 and strong start to 2020 in non-ferrous metals.

Working in partnership with our clients, we are helping them anticipate and plan for future hiring.  Given today’s competitive environment, candidates are expecting better transparency on individual metrics, as well as company goals, and it’s necessary to have open communication and to run an inspiring hiring process to attract the best talent.    The market for highly skilled talent will only get stronger in this candidate driven market – so it’s imperative to remain ahead of the game!

Author: Juan Moreno, Vice President – Industrial & Latin America at StevenDouglas,  leads the Mining Search practice with over 15 years of experience in the Americas.  For more information, please contact Juan directly at 954-385-8595 or visit StevenDouglas, one of the nation’s leading boutique Search and Interim Resources firm in the U.S. with a presence in Canada and Latin America.

StevenDouglas Locations