Canada’s Mining Industry May Be Set for a Boom

Canada, a country of 34 million people, has a vibrant mining industry with more than 1400 companies listed on their Stock Exchange and active in the sector. The growing demand from highly industrialized nations for raw materials, especially from Asia, is having a significant effect on the Canadian mining industry despite the setbacks of the global recession in 2008-9. The country is now firmly established as a global leader in the production of metals and minerals, it is the leading supplier of uranium and potash to world markets. Mining contributes more than $40 billion annually to their economy.

Top mining companies in Canada and their activities

Whether company size is measured in market value, revenue or net assets, these companies are the largest players in Canada in their chosen markets. One of the world’s most successful gold mining companies, Barrick Gold Corporation is active in eight countries and employs more than 20,000 people on 26 mines around the world. Its acquisition of Placer Dome added to its revenues and the high metal prices in its key product lines, gold, copper, silver and zinc, have also impacted profits.

A major contributor to the Canadian economy is the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, the world’s largest fertilizer producer. It was in the news last year after a hostile bid from BHP Billiton was foiled by the Canadian Government. Suncor Energy Inc is the leader in oil sands exploration and production. The rising price of oil is having a significant effect on its bottom line. A company to watch is Teck Cominco, often referred to as the “partner of choice” of junior miners. This company is active in most mining sectors, base metals, coal and gold production and is now diversifying into oil sands.

Talent and Remuneration

The shortage of experienced middle managers in the 30-50 age group due to the retirement of the “baby boomers”, those born between 1946 and 1964, is evident in Canada as it is in the rest of the world. The Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MIHRC) says the industry will need an additional labour force of 100,000 people to maintain current levels of production. Although there are initiatives afoot to encourage new entrants the talent gap is widening.

Staff retention should be a key strategy for mining companies. Flexibility in HR policy is needed to allow for movement of professionals across continents, they need to consider personalized solutions for key employees and innovative solutions to rotations to suit family life. Design of relevant incentive programs should be high on their agenda.

The Coopers Consulting-PwC 2011 Mining Industry Salary Survey reports that “CEOs are still riding a wave of high salaries and cash bonuses in 2011.” Their statistics show that 56% (a growing number) of CEO’s have an annual pay package of more than $1m. The PWc report goes on to say that new graduate mining engineers with one to two years of experience can expect an annual package of around $75,000. Young mining professionals are therefore well-placed to launch their careers in Canada.

The volatile global economic climate could well affect the demand for commodities and there is no consensus on the outlook. However, the mining sector in Canada seems robust enough for the moment.