Up for the challenge
With the skilled personnel crunch reaching new levels across the globe , where can mining consultants help ? Dan Gleeson finds out
The mining sector is experiencing a ‘ perfect storm ’ when it comes to resourcing its mines and projects – expectations of soaring demand for its products , a lack of mining-focused graduates coming through the pipeline , an ageing workforce , and considerable competition from other industries in the fields required to accommodate the ‘ future of mining ’. The consulting and engineering companies that serve miners are also coming to terms with
this demand and supply dynamic , with anecdotal evidence of service suppliers unable to bid on new work because they cannot adequately resource it .
The opportunities for those companies with the right skills and scope are , therefore , plentiful . It is all a matter of fostering the right talent to take advantage of them .
IM spoke to five leading firms in the sector to get their take on this evolving market backdrop .
A full-service supplement
Stantec , with in-built consulting , engineering and project delivery expertise across the mining lifecycle , has seen the mining skills crunch up close , with Brian Mashford , Senior Vice President , Mining , Minerals and Metals , noticing a resultant change of tack from its mining company clients .
“ The mining employment industry is very competitive right now ,” he told IM . “ Companies are outsourcing certain technical service groups – for both operations and projects – that were commonly resourced internally in the past .”
Mashford says he and his colleagues have seen clients retain a more specialised , core group of personnel for oversight and then hire Stantec to supplement their teams in both operations support capacity and for delivery of projects .
“ There ’ s a major opportunity right now for mining consultants to augment staffing gaps in mining companies ,” he added .
Having consultants with direct mining operations experience , as well as project delivery and contracting knowledge to support clients , Stantec is well prepared to fill these gaps , according to Mashford .
This has seen Stantec take on mine planning and design tasks for clients , as well as help with debottlenecking of materials handling or processing system operations .
“ Our company has the expertise to help our clients with operations and projects from early conceptual studies through to execution of both sustaining and capital projects ,” Mashford said .
“ We differ from other consulting firms because we are truly ‘ full service ’. We support clients with community engagement , early stage drilling programs , permitting of a new mine , through to design of all mine systems and related infrastructure .
“ The key to this is trusted relationships that span decades as a mine evolves and support needs change .”
Like other companies in the consulting and engineering sector , Stantec has been on hand to map out ‘ net zero ’ mining scenarios , as well as ensure mine operations align with the recently
WSP Golder recently carried out work for a wellknown mining company , who asked the company to conduct concept-level studies of water usage across its global operations to identify water savings opportunities , particularly in locations where critical water shortages had been observed ( Photo courtesy of WSP Golder )
incorporated Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management ( GISTM ) requirements .
While net zero targets are a relatively recent phenomenon , Stantec ’ s decarbonisation expertise dates back several years .
For instance , it supported Galiano Inc ( formerly Asanko Gold Inc ) in a project aiming to quantify and report greenhouse gas ( GHG ) emissions and removals associated with the Asanko Gold Mine , a multi-pit mine on the Asankrangwa gold belt in Ghana , all the way back in 2019 .
“ Based on this study , the team produced recommendations to reduce GHG emissions , including energy efficiency and decarbonisation of the energy used , as well as the creation of a dedicated system of operating procedures for continued emissions monitoring ,” Mashford said .
In this period of great change for the mining industry – where carbon reduction goals may be set , reviewed and updated based on stakeholder wishes as opposed to viable pathways – Stantec
is looking to educate the market about net zero emissions and climate change policies wherever
possible to ensure companies achieve their goals .
This will likely require a further need to
58 International Mining | OCTOBER 2022