At a Glance

  • The growing automation and digitization of mining operations are expected to affect the size and skill set of the mining workforce in both developed and developing countries.

  • Social pressure and the implementation of gender-targeted policies based on observed differences in the performance of certain tasks are leading companies in all sectors to promote more gender-inclusive recruitment policies. As a result, the employment of women in mining operations is increasing.

  • Women’s share of total mining employment is expected to continue rising as automation increases and physical strength decreases in relevance for most jobs.

Case Studies

Key Resources

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Cyclical and Secular Determinants of Productivity in the Copper, Aluminum, Iron Ore, and Coal Industries

This paper examines the perceived decline in mining productivity and suggests it could potentially be due to an unanticipated growth in ...

Encyclopedia of Gender and Mining: Key Initiatives, Best Practices and Actors

This resource aims to provide decision makers with information on best practices regarding how to mainstream gender in mining-related ...

Managing Through the Cycle: A Strategic Approach to Workforce Planning in the Mining Industry

This report provides some theoretical grounding in workforce planning, followed by a comprehensive discussion of workforce planning in ...

Productivity in Mining: Now Comes the Hard Part

Over sixty interviews with senior mining executives globally were compiled into this comprehensive survey, addressing key productivity ...

Ramp-UP: A Study on the Status of Women in Canada's Mining and Exploration Sector

This report provides wide-ranging employment data collected from hundreds of women at all levels in the mining and exploration sectors. It ...

Industries at a Glance: Mining

The site provides detailed statistics for the U.S. mining industry. The data also holds interest for non-U.S. users mainly because ...

Topic Briefing

For policy makers seeking to use the mining sector to increase the quantity and quality of local employment, two recent trends are particularly relevant: mining automation and gender-informed recruiting policies.

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The growing automation and digitization of mining operations are expected to affect the size and skill set of the mining workforce. This trend is not confined to developed countries. For example, Randgold Resources invested more than $2.7 billion in the underground operation’s automated material handling system of its Kibali gold mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to make it one of Africa’s most automated gold mines. [1]

The promotion of gender-inclusive recruitment policies is part of a global approach being taken by companies in all sectors; this is boosting female employment in mining operations. For example, in 2016, BHP announced a commitment to increase the share of women in its workforce to 50 percent by 2025.[2] While this trend is to some extent the result of social pressure on mining companies, it also reflects gender-targeted policies based on observed performance differences between genders in certain tasks. For example, women tend to be more responsible and careful drivers, and are therefore increasingly employed to operate large equipment.

In the future, women’s share of total mining employment may also be boosted by increasing automation and the reduced relevance of physical strength for most jobs. Further details on this trend are provided in “Ramp-UP: A Study on the Status of Women in Canada’s Mining and Exploration Sector” (page 11) found in the Key Resources.

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[1] Carl Surran, “Randgold Cites Automation for Expected Increase in Kibali Gold Production,” Seeking Alpha, April 23, 2018.

[2] Lucy Smithdm, “BHP Sets Goal for 50% Women in Workforce,” Daily Mercury, October 21, 2016.