MIREU, Barbórka and Raw Materials

Barbórka, the Miner’s day in Poland was a great framework for an intensive MIREU workshop on skills and requirements in the mining industry, which was held at the AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków on December 5th and 6th.

The workshop set off with a keynote by Marek Cala, Dean of the faculty of Mining and Geoengineering. Cala reflected on AGH’s 100 years celebration this year and on mining as its founding discipline. Slowly other disciplines followed, as just recently the ‘Revitalisation of Degraded Areas.’ Cala drew attention to the poor acceptance of mining in the EU, consequently the change in wordings from mining to extraction of ‘raw materials’ and hence the difficulty to attract skilled workers and students for this profession.

Marco A Konrat Martins from INTERMIN project pointed to sectoral complexities and the need for ‘boundary spanners’ as well as the urgent and increasing necessity for competencies in social and environmental responsibilities in the industry. Vice-Dean Zbigniew Niedbalski highlighted, however, that the current mining education with its enormous regulations spans only 5ECTS points in the humanities and soft skills, a worldwide trend (lack) according to Philipp Hartlieb from Montanuniversität Leoben Austria. Yet creativity and critical thinking were two of the main skills that Gabriel Gillis from ArcelorMittal Poland, the largest steel producer in Poland, mentioned as required competencies for the future. Anna Ostrega from AGH and MIREU further broadened the question with lacking expertise of public entities with decision-making power. Refreshingly, Joni Kivipelto Chief Environmental Specialist at the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and Environment Finland, gave examples of the Mine Specialisation Program, which was implemented in 2015 and embraces various environmental, water and even reindeer permits and monitoring.

This and many more topics and speakers gave inspiring food for thoughts on the challenges how to ‘soft skill’ the industry, enhance communication that expand traditional contract negotiations with communities, foster collaboration with academia (interdisciplinary) and stimulate a pre-impact thinking instead of post-impact crises management!

The conference finished with traditional Barbórka festivities, nowadays, in the second year (!) also gender-inclusive, that reflect the pride and heritage of Polish miners.

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