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ESG is part of the talent acquisition process

Whilst those of us already in the sector are aware of the opportunities industrial minerals mining can offer the next generation of engineers and thinkers – the chance to engage in interesting, challenging and essential work, coupled with career longevity and excellent career progression prospects – mining must first tackle its reputation and firmly address the ESG agenda. If it doesn’t, the next generations of innovators will simply look elsewhere.

In actuality, for those engineers, scientists and thinkers who put ESG at the forefront of their decision-making, it’s in an industry like mining where they arguably have one of the best opportunities to drive real improvements in ESG performance. They can pave the way for genuine progress in reaching ambitious sustainability and environmental targets. The role of mining companies today is to create a platform that empowers these engineers and scientists to make a real difference.

ESG drivers

ESG has been on the agenda for a long time. Regulations have become steadily more stringent and are touching more and more areas of operations. The difference today is that the focus on the ESG agenda is being driven not only by the regulators and investors, it’s now under the spotlight with wider stakeholder groups, including the societies in which mining companies operate. As a result, ESG is now having a tangible impact on culture within the business as employees and potential employees look to understand the role they play within their local communities, as well as the impact they as individuals are having on the sustainability of their environment.

Now, in order to attract new talent and retain the skills within their business, mining companies will need to ensure that their corporate responsibilities meet not only what they must do, but also what they should do.

To address this, mining companies should market and position themselves as responsible corporate citizens and educate younger generations in what the industry is doing to support sustainability, the environment and corporate social responsibilities. But this agenda must be backed up by credible evidence, which is where digital transformation can play a pivotal role.

Cultural and digital evolution

With the increased focus on ESG from a regulatory, culture and recruitment perspective, the impetus is on mining companies to adopt digital tools and ways of working sooner rather than later to ensure they stay on the front foot.

As a result of the ongoing digital transformation and ever-evolving ESG agenda, there is more requirement than ever for newer skills such as environmental specialists, data scientists, IT specialists, software engineers and programme initiatives, and this will only create more opportunities for multi-disciplinary roles which can only be a good thing for the development of the sector and the variety of career paths available.

Digital natives

With the ongoing digital revolution and evolving requirements for ESG-focused roles, the key to success lies in harnessing the power of these new tools and skills, and to unlock their potential in driving real improvement in ESG performance within mining.

As digital natives, it is this next generation of engineers and scientists that has the potential to harness hugely impactful innovations, like Artificial Intelligence (AI), that will really drive our industry forward in terms of ESG. These are the next data scientists and data engineers, AI specialists and climate change specialists, and they are asking companies today about how they are adopting a more modern, digital environment. They’re telling us this would be part of their decision to leave their current employer and indeed in choosing their next one.

Beyond the ‘tick-box’

The mining industry is all too aware of the concerns of future generations and the potential for them to be less interested in joining the sector due to its environmental impact. The talent we could be attracting into mining will certainly call out companies if they feel they’re not behaving responsibly.

We know that, overall, we are making great strides in driving our ESG agendas and our sector towards carbon neutrality and sustainability, and we also know that we cannot secure the future success of our operations without the next generation of innovators, thinkers and engineers.

To ensure a sustainable future for our sector, we need to be able to demonstrate that we are taking responsibility, that we are being transparent in our operations, and that we are effectively engaging with local communities and stakeholders.

This blog was written by: Pieter Neethling – Segment Director, Mining Operations, Seequent 

To read more about how ESG is driving the cultural agenda, read our insight paper ‘Moving the ESG needle in mining – from threat to opportunity’.

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