This will be a year that few of us will ever forget. So much of what we have known has gone out of the window, not just at work but in our social and personal lives too. We have had to find new ways of being engaged and connected with ourselves and others.
Operators across the mineral products and quarrying sector share many recruitment challenges. These include replacing an ageing workforce, skills retention, and presenting the sector as an attractive choice for today’s school, college and university leavers.
The UK mineral extractives sector directly employs 74,000 people at over 2,000 active sites and plants, and supports an additional 3.5 million jobs throughout the supply chain1. Keeping our industry attuned to the latest thinking on safety, health and environmental knowledge is a major undertaking and a key priority for the Institute of Quarrying (IQ).
Everyone working in the quarrying and mineral products sector has a moral obligation to operate to the highest health and safety standards. The ramifications of ignoring best practice can have a devastating impact on personal wellbeing, as well as affecting commercial success, corporate reputation and shareholder value. Now there is growing recognition that a safe workplace should be a given, not a goal. That means moving from a ‘conscious’ commitment to safety to a culture where safety is ‘unconscious’.
The Institute of Quarrying (IQ) champions safety in the mineral products sector through the continuing professional development (CPD) of operatives and operators. This encompasses everything from the overarching responsibility of operators to achieving Target Zero, to personal awareness of potential hazards such as conveyor safety.
Turn the clock back 12 months. It’s the first-ever Institute of Quarrying (IQ) Fellows Lunch and Student Awards. The setting is the New Armouries’ Banqueting Suite at the Tower of London. A new IQ president takes the stage and sets out his stall, introducing the Institute’s ‘Creating Future Leaders’ strategy, shaping the direction ahead for the organisation and its members.
On the face of it, minerals extraction may appear a relatively simple and straightforward process to the unversed. Reserves are identified and applications are made for the go-ahead to remove the earth’s natural riches. But, as we all know, the process is considerably more complex, wrapped up in a rich mix of consultations, legislation and an equal measure of negotiation, all of which can take years.
The UK’s quarrying and mineral products sector is always moving forward and seeking out new ways of doing things that challenge the status quo. These are often achieved through exciting collaborations between quarry operators and suppliers introducing new innovations setting out standards of excellence that become future operational norms.
Major advances in technology are impacting construction industries like never before. In the mineral products sector the application of robotics and automated production processes is reshaping one of the world's largest industries, improving safety and optimising production efficiencies.
Progress in business is often measured by increased profitability. How that progress comes about can be the result of technological advances, improved operating practices, smarter deployment of resources; the list is endless. But the common theme that flows through these incremental gains is invariably innovation, something in which the mineral products and quarrying sector excels.