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Some Thoughts on Minerals Industry Education for the 21st Century


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Author Udd JE


The great philosopher, Marshall McLuhan, is said to have stated that the use of forecasting as a means of guiding future actions is akin to driving an automobile through observations made in the rear-view mirror! In effect, in forecasting it is assumed that there will be an orderly progression from the past into the future, and that the model will be sufficiently unvarying for use to gauge both the directions and the rates of change. The concepts of forecasting have served man well in disciplines in which the relationship between causes and effects can be clearly demonstrated; such as between rainfall and crop yield, for example. These are of no value, however, when conditions change rapidly and unpredictably, or when there is no model at all. Even worse, under such circumstances our preconceived notions may cause us to make some horrendous errors in judgement. Such are the risks at present in attempting to make an assessment of the educational needs of the minerals industry for the coming century! The model, and the conceptions that we have had of the linkages between cause and effect are in disarray. Minerals markets are chaotic, and there is almost no ability to forecast trends in metal values. Linkages between supply and demand seem tenuous. Internationally, producers are struggling for survival. Mine closures, temporary shutdowns, and reopenings are frequent occurrences. Decision-making under uncertainty is probably one of the most certain things about the world mining industry Today!