Canadian Mining Journal


It’s why-two-kay plus eleven already!

pelling "why-two-kay" makes it easier to read but still hard to believe that the Year 2000 is already more than a decade behind us. Like many of you I presume, I remember exactly where I was 10 years ago this past New Year's Eve when we flipped...

pelling “why-two-kay” makes it easier to read but still hard to believe that the Year 2000 is already more than a decade behind us. Like many of you I presume, I remember exactly where I was 10 years ago this past New Year’s Eve when we flipped the calendar into the second millennium, not knowing if our computers would crash or the world would go dark?

For some it was a very anxious and in fact, quite a traumatic moment while for many others it was just a great opportunity to pull a prank by turning off lights and laughing at others. But, as we all know, the biggest time-change in our lives fortunately didn’t live up to all the hype. The lights didn’t go off permanently and ABMs still worked so all was still good!

The following decade, however, contained a number of other events that none of us will also ever forget. Naturally, September 11, 2001, (“nine-eleven”) started the decade off in a tragic way and the on-going wars to this day continue to serve as ugly reminders of that event 10 years ago later this year.

Between 9/11 and the end of 2010, however, the world has witnessed many, many other catastrophic occurrences; too many to mention here. Thankfully, many good things have also happened between 2000 and 2010 and probably one of the better and more popular ones come in the form of satellite communications and particularly, the hand-held devices that go along with it.

Like them or not, portable devices have taken over our lives and even the most powerful man in the world, U.S. President Barack Obama admits he’s “addicted to taking my Blackberry with me almost everywhere I go.” There’s also a funny television commercial out right now depicting washroom, bedroom, and sporting events involving that same addiction.

Aside from the comedic aspect, however, being wireless isn’t a personal novelty anymore because it has now reached “essential” status on a worldwide scale. Like every technology, some of it has been used for bad purposes beyond its original intent but on the whole, satellite communications have created a better world without borders.

Just look at what happened during last year’s rescue of 33 miners trapped in Chile. Rescue teams from around the world helped save them by using internet communications from various locations around the world to “talk everyone through” the ordeal. Other professions, particularly in the fields of medicine, are also using satellite communications to perform surgeries without actually being present, and of course, businesses today couldn’t survive without teleconferencing and emails.

But, like I said, there are bad sides to every technology and the one that bothers me the most is how satellites and their communications’ powers are replacing traditional things in our day-to-day lives.

For example, have you read a newspaper lately?

Not long ago that would have been an absurd question but now that we’re being bombarded with satellite information, it’s not such a bizarre question at all. In fact, I’m willing to bet there were quite a few of you who answered “No I haven’t” and that doesn’t surprise me in the least because quite frankly, newspapers are sadly becoming less a part of our daily lives.

And that’s troubling because the touch and weight of a newspaper truly reflects more on the state of the world’s economy than any compact device ever can, or will. “Want Ads,” for example, tell more about any economy better than anything else simply because they only appear when times are good and people are needed for work.

Admittedly, newspapers tend to localize when it comes jobs and as we’ve all seen in recent years, especially when it comes to mining, that some jobs have dried up and workers have been forced to look elsewhere, farther away where there was work to be found. And those far-away jobs weren’t advertised in the local paper. They were most likely posted on the internet.

As we move further into this decade, finding good people to work in mining is going to be a huge challenge because, as the Mining Industry Resources Council (MIHRC) reported recently, more than 60,000 Canadian mining employees will retire by 2020 and to maintain current levels of production, the mining industry will need an additional labour force of 100,000 people.

And unfortunately for Canada, it doesn’t have them and like many other countries in similar situations around the globe, will have to go searching on the internet for foreign bodies. To learn more about this problem, Van Zorbas, a Partner in Deloitte Canada’s Human Capital practice, has written next month’s In My Mine(d) column entitled: “Talent scarcity threatens industry profitability.” It’s worth reading.

In the meantime, however, it’s safe to repeat that satellite communication and its scope of possibilities is here forever. It will undoubtedly be used to recruit mining personnel over the next decade or so but as I said earlier, it still bothers me how it’s replacing some of the more traditional things in our lives; like personal contact with material things and the people around us.

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