March 02, 2019
What does it mean to be a social miner? Well, if you often say “if it’s not grown, it’s mined” then you probably aren’t one.
Last Thursday, students from 11 universities across Canada took to the stage in Edmonton, Alberta for the highly anticipated speech component of the 29th annual Canadian Mining Games. They were challenged to deliver a speech addressing life as a social miner (something a little open for interpretation). Although each representative did an amazing job, Hajar El Houssaini from École Polytechnique took the win. One word from Hajar's speech echoed in my head for several days thereafter — empathy.
So, here’s my answer of what it means to be a social miner.
Being a social miner, means showing empathy and understanding what it is like to not be a miner. What is it like, to be a member of a small community with a large mining operation looming over the town, or, to live a bustling city with no exposure to the industry which provides the elements hidden deep within your phone? Ultimately, our friends in these small towns and bustling cities are the end users of mining products, and if there is one thing I have learned as a product manager, it is that showing empathy towards your users is the most important thing you can do.
This brings us back to the mining industry slogan...
if it’s not grown it’s mined
The problem with this statement, is that it only tells society, our users, why they need us. You need mined materials, you need copper for your house and you need gold for your iPhone… Never do we tell our users why they should actually want the mining industry. Telling someone that they need mining so that they can have an iPhone, is like telling them they need an iPhone so that they can have a phone number. Apple does not sell phone numbers. Apple sells you the ability to create memories with your friends and family, the image of success, and the ability to stay connected with the world no matter where you go. So, maybe instead of "if its not grown its mined," we should be saying things like...
fuelling the future through mined materials
Ultimately, we must ask, why should society actually want the mining industry to be successful? And when we ask this, we must remember that needs and wants are two very different things.
So, if we want to be social miners, we need to answer this question from the perspective of a non-miner. Non-miners want mining to support the advancement of new technologies, to help society grow, perhaps even to create a world where mining as it exists today is no longer necessary (cue innovation). There are many possible answers, and I would just ask every other miner out there, why should society want--not just need--us? Until we can answer this question extremely well, we will not be able to change the public perception of mining, and we will not be social miners.
All that being said, I’m not here to answer why society should want and love mining, I’m here to answer what it means to be a social miner. To be a social miner, means to mine for our users. Not to mine for the sake of mining, but to innovate, teach, and get better at what we do best. To be a social miner, means to show empathy towards those who don’t understand our industry, those who are afraid of another mining company coming into town, and those who unknowingly depend upon us.
So, my last question is, are you a social miner?
Adrian Heieis, Product Manager - Riivos Mining
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