By Emma Sturgis, Special for USDR
While the US mining industry has cooled down from its red-hot growth last century, there are still bright spots in the US mining. This is often seen as an opportunistic career move and is definitely some of the hardest labor out there. It definitely isn’t for the weak-hearted and it seems like opportunities are dwindling but there are still great opportunities for those considering a career in the mining and mineral industry if you know where to look.
Coal mining in the eastern US has declined along with coal production. It’s been on a steady decline due to competition from cleaner alternatives like natural gas. Coal mining plays an increasingly smaller role in the US mining industry all over but can still be found. Places like Nevada and Alaska are providing real growth in the mining industry. Improvements and changes in the extraction process are creating growth in careers as well.
Nevada has long been a major mining state. Nevada mining began with the Comstock Lode ore of silver and has continued for more than 150 years as newer technology allows for better and more efficient mineral extraction techniques. Heap leaching improvements are increasing mining yields and providing more mining opportunities. Precious metals like gold, silver, copper and a myriad of other minerals are extracted from this process.
Alaska is the last frontier for mining in the US and has long held the promise of immense mineral wealth. There are countless small mining operations throughout the state and several large projects still under construction. Gold mining is the largest type of mining in Alaska, but there are many other minerals mined. Improved transportation accessibility has turned previously unprofitable deposits into economically feasible projects. While the industry is still small compared to other states, real opportunities exist to work in Alaska mining jobs.
Many areas of US mining are on the verge of making a comeback and becoming a driver of growth. According to Deloitte in their Tracking the Trends 2016 report, there are 10 issues that will affect the mining industry in 2016.
Mining companies will become leaner. This will allow them to mine their deposits more efficiently. They’ll be looking for professionals who can make this happen. Big data should play a role in this as well.
Another trend worth watching is that there will be a move to harness technology like 3D printing as well as aligning mining processes with energy availability.
One trend that definitely will provide job opportunities is that safety issues will continue to become more important. Those who pursue an occupational health and safety degree online or in school will be well poised to take advantage of these increased opportunities.
The mining industry in America does have growth areas and there are bright spots with gold and other mineral mining. There are opportunities coming available as mining companies make structural improvements to their processes. It’s still a very good time to join the mining industry.