Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Can undergraduate numbers sustain the mineral processing workforce?

This morning the IMP Advisory Committee meeting was open to all delegates.

The committee is represented by 34 countries, and at the Istanbul IMP three commissions were set up, Robin Batterham chairing the commission on mineral processing, to basically define its ever changing boundaries, which aid definition of the themes of the IMPCs. In Delhi in 2012 the theme will be ‘Innovative Processes for Sustainable Growth’. Roberto Villas-Boas is the chair of sustainability examining various aspects, such as energy reduction and environmental impact.

A particularly interesting presentation was made by Jan Cilliers, in charge of the commission on eductation. Jan has been collating the number of graduates in mineral processing, with a view to assessing the sustainability of personnel within the industry. His figures were in some cases surprising. and often disappointing. In 2009 the number of graduates was:

North America 175, hardly enough to maintain sustainability within that area.
Western Europe 50
Africa 400, mainly from South Africa
Australia 40, a very disappointing number, such that Australia is now recruiting chemical engineers as mineral processors to service its large industry (note that a large proportion of job vacancies on MEI Online are in Australia).
Eastern Europe 600, about two-thirds of these are from Turkey’s many mineral processing departments.
Central Asia 145
India 140- not enough to sustain its rapidly developing industry
South America a healthy 1000
China an amazing 3000; of the total 5500 graduates per year, nearly 60% are from China.

Of the total graduates, around 70% go into industry, and on average only about 20% are female.

It is predicted that there will be a 15% growth in numbers by 2015.

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