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Issues & Policy

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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 of life.

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

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 of information.
  • 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.

Company Practices

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.

Industry initiatives

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.


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