ILO: Mining Jobs Worldwide Dwindling

By Agence France-Presse The number of workers in the global mining industry has steadily fallen since the early 1990s although production is on the rise, the International Labor Organization says. In a report, the Geneva-based ILO says that more than 3 million mining jobs were lost between 1995 and 2000. Between 1985 and 2000, at least 5.5 million jobs were lost, according to data from 29 countries. The industry now accounts for less than 1% of the global workforce and manages to keep up with demand through the opening of new, highly efficient mines, usually in developing countries, the report says. "The overall industry trend is one where increasingly skilled miners are working longer hours in a much more capital-intensive industry," the report's author, Norman Jennings, says. In South Africa, the value of mine production increased by more than 250% between 1985 and 2000, while employment fell by 50%. Coal mining productivity increased by more than 100% in Canada, India and the United States, and by more than 200% in Australia in recent years, the report adds. The study was prepared ahead of a five-day meeting of industry experts that began on Oct. 7 and is expected to draw about 80 delegates from 43 countries, ILO says. Figures for China suggest mining jobs have dropped from 6.68 million in 1995 to 4.26 million in 2000, while in Britain the figure slumped from 179,600 in 1985 to 13,100 in 2000. Competition in the international minerals markets, mergers and acquisitions, and increased technology have sparked employment changes in the mining industry. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2002

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