Mining cycles have come and gone and with them there have been dramatic swings in the levels of interest and student entry into minerals-related education programs, hence graduate supply to the industry. So what is the problem? These trends will keep happening and the industry will keep on keeping on – or will it?
This paper discusses recent trends in Australian minerals education programs and some international examples, together with some of the more recent initiatives taken by both the minerals education sector and the industry, such as the Minerals Tertiary Education Council (MTEC) and MEA. The real problem is that things will not just keep going the way they have over recent decades – there will come a time when there is no longer a supply of minerals academics available to provide the educational programs; and universities will simply shut down subcritical mass mining programs and invest in the much more lucrative programs such as commerce, law, medicine, etc. By the time this starts to happen it will be at least ten years too late for any last-minute reactive response by industry, if they were to try and avert such a consequence. International experience with mining programs bears out this scenario quite clearly.
It is therefore timely for industry
individual mines and mine management to take a much more strategic look at their
role in the education sector. Sustainable mining also means sustainable minerals
education – without one, the other will not function over the long-term. There
is a pressing need for long-term strategic buy-in by industry into the education
sector – not just for the good times, but also through the tough times. This
means much more than a scholarship here or there, but includes such commitments
as major industry-university research partnerships; collaborative recruitment
initiatives and much more. The paper will discuss a range of such issues,
problems and opportunities to address these important issues through strategic,
comprehensive, long-term commitments by industry and equally significant and
appropriate responses by the education sector. We care – do you?
Laurence, D and
Hebblewhite, B, 2011.
Sustainable minerals education – we care, but do you? in Proceedings 11th AusIMM Underground Operators’
pp 261-266 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and