Our workforce is the backbone of the mining industry; without our employees we could not operate mines in Nevada. Employment also represents one of the most direct ways for member companies to contribute to economic development and the creation of human capital in host communities.
Employee Recruitment, Development, and Retention
Recruitment and Development – The mining business has evolved dramatically from its early days in Nevada, from an industry requiring simple tools and often dangerous manual labor to a technical and mechanized business that requires a wide variety of employees who work in highly specialized and increasingly technical positions. Attracting qualified employees can be difficult, particularly when high commodity prices increase competition for employees to bring new operations online. The industry faces a labor shortage in the next five to ten years, as much of the current mining workforce nears retirement age. Studies by professional societies anticipate that approximately 50 percent of the current minerals and energy workforce in the United States will retire over the next decade.
The rural location of many mining operations can also be
an obstacle to recruitment: small populations with limited
skills make local recruitment difficult. Conversely, attracting
employees from urban areas to rural operations can be complicated
by limited housing, infrastructure, and differences in quality
Retention – The cyclical nature of the industry complicates employee retention. Downturns sometimes require temporary or permanent site closures, causing employment to fluctuate with the commodity cycle. Consequently, some qualified individuals are deterred from seeking employment in the industry, and others who lose their positions may seek opportunities in other sectors.
Workforce recruitment, retention, and development efforts
are critical to ensure that the mining industry continues
to operate efficiently and to create economic value in Nevada.
Company practices to increase employee recruitment, retention and development include:
- Partnerships with local colleges and technical
training facilities to assist residents in obtaining the
skills required to work in the mining industry. Companies
provide financial support, access to training infrastructure,
employee mentors and trainers.
- Scholarships and temporary or part-time
employment for students during their course of study to
help them gain on-the-job experience, with preferential
recruitment at the end of these programs. For example, the
industry has provided scholarships for students of the Mackay
School of Mines at the University of Nevada, Reno.
- Professional development opportunities for
current employees such as hands-on and classroom training,
to increase professional competencies, improve familiarity
with new technology and build new skill sets.
- Programs in leadership and personnel management,
project management, safety, and financial management. Sometimes
the best way for people to gain new skills is to transfer
their existing knowledge to new situations. For example,
in Newmont’s Developmental Assignment Program (DAP),
participating employees temporarily transfer to Newmont
sites outside their home countries, where they share or
learn best practices in health and safety, community development,
and operations and environmental management. In turn, their
visits to host mines provide for cross-cultural exchanges
- Financial support for employees’ secondary
and lifelong educational pursuits. In addition to helping
employees become more productive in their current roles,
these development programs also provide employees with a
broader range of skills and more employment opportunities
both within and outside of the mining sector.
- Excellent health care benefits, including
paid health insurance for employees and their families as
well as employee wellness programs such as noncash incentives
for meeting annual wellness goals.
Increasing Diversity in Mining
Diversity is vital to sustaining and strengthening our workforce. Although women now comprise an estimated 25 percent of the workforce in a mine in Nevada—up from an estimated 5 percent in the 1970s—mining companies are still challenged to recruit more women into this traditionally male field. Historical reasons for preventing women from participating in mining, such as strenuous physical labor and safety issues, have been dramatically reduced through technological advances, and the ripples of labor laws enacted three decades ago are steadily—if slowly—being felt. Mining is no longer considered a gendered occupation, yet opportunities to encouraging women to enter mining remain.
Most Nevada mining companies actively recruit female employees, and have designed flexible work practices to encourage women to seek employment in the industry. Many also have equal remuneration policies to ensure wage equality.
There is a high level of collaboration within the mining industry in Nevada to address recruiting challenges through workforce development programs for individuals who seek employment in the sector. One of these initiatives is the Great Basin College Mine Maintenance Training Program.
We are undertaking many efforts to increase both the gender and ethnic diversity of our industry, many of which begin with K-12 educational programs and continue through the college level.