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Mining faces serious skilled labour shortages

Shortage of skilled labour

The Cache Creek Economic Development Committee met with a number of neighbouring mining industry reps this past week for a round table session where they learned of the serious skilled labour shortages being faced by the industry.

It’s a situation that is going to worsen in the years ahead if something isn’t done to raise some interest in the career opportunities right across the board and creating attractive nearby communities in which workers will want to live and raise their families.

Even though mining is the second largest industry in province, and UBC and BCIT are turning out engineers and tradesmen, there are still too few graduating students are taking a serious look at the opportunities for employment, mine managers told the committee.

HVC faces significant retirement numbers

At Highland Valley Copper, manager Chris Dechert pointed out that Canada will have a shortage of about 100,000 mine workers in en years. Right at the present time, HVC is concerned about the pressing need for an experienced work force to replace their some 400 employees who will be eligible to retire in just a little over two years.

There are 1220 employees and 300 contractors with good paying positions and jobs at the present time, which is very significant to the economy of the area.

The mine will also be looking at modernization of their flotation system, a $200-$500 million investment which will have the potential to create some 500 construction jobs over a two year period.

The mine’s life has been extended to 2020 and beyond, if the price of copper holds into the future.

New Gold preparing for production

The New Gold Mine expects to go into production in about six weeks, with a mine life of about 14 years.

They have some 330 employees, 82 per cent are BC residents and the mine has underground and surface contractors.

The competition for skilled workers has resulted in the creation of an internal training program

Ajax Mine under environmental review

The Ajax deposit, on Kamloops doorstep, is undergoing federal and provincial environmental assessments at the present time.

Our significant concern at this time is the mine’s proximity to Kamloops.  If it gets the go ahead, it too will be looking at some 1000 workers during construction and some 400 employees during production.

The EcDev committee members went away fro the meeting with good information to consider in their planning in the days and weeks ahead.

The Committee was formed in order to investigate diversity and move away from total dependency on the single industry  major in the area, the Cache Creek Landfill which is facing an uncertain future.

Attending the meeting with Cache Creek’s committee members: Mayor John Ranta, Councillors Darrell Rawcliffe, Jim Loucks and Ida Makaro, Chamber reps Ben Roy and Don Hillyard, were guests: Chris Dechert, Highland Valley Copper; Ron Allum, New Gold (New Afton); John Froese, Abacus (Ajax Mine) Glen Duggan, Cache Creek Machine Shop; Debbie Arnott, Sun Country Community Futures; Deb Biddiscombe, Knucwentwec Development Society, Dan Sulz, Venture Kamloops and Robyn Carle, NDIT.