Agnico Eagle taps Mexico workforce for Macassa

Amid various solutions for miners struggling to find skilled labour, few companies are open about hiring workers outside Canada to meet their […]
Geologists at the now-closed La India mine in northern Mexico. Credit: Agnico Eagle Mines

Amid various solutions for miners struggling to find skilled labour, few companies are open about hiring workers outside Canada to meet their needs.

Few that is, except for Agnico Eagle Mines (TSX: AEM; NYSE: AEM), which has hired a dozen heavy duty mechanics from Mexico to work at its Macassa mine in Kirkland Lake, northern Ont.

“Being able to attract 12 skilled mechanics is a great win for us,” Nathan Cloet, human resources director for Agnico’s Ontario region told The Northern Miner. “In this market environment it’s hard to find skilled mechanics. The mining industry across Canada and Ontario does not necessarily leverage immigration as much as they could or should. So for us, we want to try this out.”

The workers are part of a new program Agnico is piloting that seeks to fill positions with employees from sister operations, in this case its La India mine in Mexico’s northern state of Sonora, which closed last year after it reached its end of life. The program is putting the workers and their families on a permanent residency-track and Cloet expects they’ll start working at Macassa by March or April.

Agnico’s program comes as Canada’s mining labour force is expected to face even more shortages in the next decade, mainly due to workers retiring, but also from waning interest in mining among young people, according to the Ottawa-based Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR). The council’s 2023 Canadian Mining Outlook report forecasts the industry’s total workforce will — in a baseline scenario  — decrease by 5% to 170,796 in 2033. That’s due to decreasing commodity prices in line with World Bank projections and higher interest rates. Even to meet that reduced level, 158,220 jobs will have to be filled over the 2023-2033 period across the mining and milling, support services and primary metal manufacturing sub-sectors. Meanwhile, only 137,934 people are projected to enter the industry, leaving an employment gap of 20,287 across all sub-sectors.

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