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Top Miner Warns That A Labor Shortage Could Threaten The Energy Transition

The booming demand for energy transition metals such as copper and nickel will require a lot of skilled people from engineers to data scientists as a looming shortage of talent in the mining industry threatens the pace of the energy transition, according to the world’s largest miner, BHP.

“As we automate and electrify our operations, move work to remote operating centres, change the very equipment our maintainers look after, we have to train for new skills,” Laura Tyler, Chief Technical Officer at BHP, said in a speech at an industry event in Melbourne, Australia, on Thursday.

“Increasingly, we need more digital skills in every aspect of what we do,” Tyler added.   

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BHP’s Paris-aligned 1.5-degree scenario analysis shows that copper production would have to double over the next 30 years, relative to the last 30 years, while nickel production has to jump nearly fourfold. 

“To pull this future towards us, we must all work to secure the talent and skills we need,” BHP’s Tyler said.

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“The challenge will always be how we recover the resources that are needed. How do we do it better, and more sustainably. And how we get the right people to join our industry and teams,” the executive added.  

An analysis from PwC last year suggested that the industry would need 21% more mining engineers and geotech engineers, and 29% more metallurgists in 2040 than it had in 2020, Tyler noted.

The energy transition will need to start recruiting, training, retaining, or attracting the talent necessary to ensure that the energy transition will have its next generation of resource workers amid surging demand, she said.

The skills shortage is evident not only at the start of the clean energy supply chain such as in metals mining. A recent study by SolarPower Europe, for example, showed that there is a critical shortage of skills for solar power installations. If the EU is to meet its energy security targets, the continent must employ over 1 million solar workers in 2030, twice as many as in 2021, SolarPower Europe said.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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