How Should We Inspire Innovation Within the Mining Industry? (Part 2 of 3)

Inspiring Innovation in Mining

In the first of this three-part series, we talked about the importance of participating in hackatons and tech-related events designed specifically for the mining industry. They are a great tool for discovering new solutions to challenging problems, but their greatest value may be enabling our industry to market and network within our local tech communities.

In this second part, we will address the importance of marketing the mining industry to new talent, including Millennials, and its role in inspiring innovation.

Marketing to the Next-Generation of Talent

Marketing our industry to the next generation is crucial if we want to design and implement the most recent technological advancements to optimise our operations. Reaching out to Millennials can be challenging as many of them have an overly simplified and negative perception of what mining truly is. It is therefore our responsibility to reach out to show them the true nature of our industry and the potential it has to offer. We can do so in the following ways.

— Providing Hands-On Exposure —

For most of the professionals in attendance, “Unearthed Denver” was their first exposure to the field of mining. By working through the challenges that were presented, all 137 participants walked away with a huge perspective shift. Instead of seeing the industry through the lens of a critical and uninformed outsider, they were able to acknowledge the value of mining and become excited about the progress that is underway.

Events such as the Hackathon do just this, Larry Clark explained, “I learned that there are many young people who when given the chance showed an interest in solving the problems in our business.”

Larry Clarke, Advisor, Newtrax Board of Directors
Larry Clark, Advisor, Newtrax Board of Directors


— Communicating the Impact in a Tangible Way —

More than 50% of millennials say they would take a pay cut to find work that matches their values, while 90% want to use their skills for good. Millennials want to work with purpose, and they want their workplace to be aligned with their values.

Many companies use words such as impact and purpose without seriously moving the needle on major social and environmental problems. Millennials want to work for organizations that are transparent about how they’re using their technology, their resources, and their talent. They also want to create shared value, make positive social and environmental changes, and increase opportunities for disadvantaged populations.

While mining has traditionally been considered an industry that has harmful effects on the environment and local communities, the industry has made huge strides towards using technology, reform, and new methods to mine sustainability as a top priority.

For example, Newtrax prides itself on being 100% focused on delivering cutting-edge technology for underground hard rock mines exclusively, because research has shown that a focus towards underground mining instead of surface and open-pit is a strategic approach towards sustainable mining in the future.

— Daring to Be Early Adopters and to Invest in Research —

Traditionally, more conservative industries -such as mining- have shied away from being early adopters of technologies, and most of the time for good reason. It is hard to predict the benefits of something that hasn’t been proven yet.

However, technology believers such as Barrick Gold, the world’s largest gold producer, saw this tech gap as an opportunity instead of an obstacle – a way to differentiate itself in the industry and streamline its business operations.

Visionaries such as Michelle Ash, CIO at Barrick Gold Corporation,  are paving the way for other mining companies worldwide to join the Digital Transformation of the industry.

Michelle Ash, Barrick’s Chief Innovation Officer, gives a presentation to Barrick colleagues during a recent innovation workshop in Toronto. ( ©

Companies such as Barrick will have higher chances of attracting new talent that is excited about making a lasting impact in the industry, by providing the resources and the tools necessary to participate in that innovative environment.

Learning how to further market ourselves by engaging in the younger generation’s interests and utilizing a more modern voice will allow us to open the doors to young innovators who are looking to make an impact on the world.

In the third part of this series, we will talk about the need to market to ourselves internally in order to adopt the innovator mindset.

Stay tuned!