Mining—and in association, oil sands—makes up 3–4% of our economy, employing 350,000 people in direct jobs. From that perspective, it’s a big sector for the Canadian economy. The industry will continue to grow, and is expected to grow. In addition to growth, there will be change. The mining sector is facing challenges in adopting new technology for improved services for workers’ safety, environmental regulations, and efficiencies. There will be many new inventions to be used in improving those issues.

Aerospace will also become an increasingly key industry for the future of Canada

The resources of today are not the same as we had twenty years ago. There are more complex ones, and more complex processes. Cars will still be used, construction won’t stop, and our population will continue to grow. Our need for materials will continue to grow, as will our consumption rates. As a result, we are experimenting with many different types of sources. There’s solar power, which is still relatively inexpensive. There’s also wind energy and hydroelectricity energy, of which there is a great interest for exploitation. From the nuclear side, it depends. There are many parameters, such as the example of Japan. The closing of the Fukushima reactor led to a shortage in energy supply, which is disastrous from both an environmental and economical standpoint.

The metals we use will also be changing. Materials like aluminum, because of how easily recyclable and malleable they are, will be in higher demand. For example, as we seek to build lighter cars with better gas consumption, using metals like aluminum could improve on fuel economy and lower operating costs. Aerospace will also become an increasingly key industry for the future of Canada. Giants like Bombardier has its place in the market; half the jobs in Quebec are in the aerospace industry. It’s a sector that’s going to continue moving forward, in contrast to industries like the textiles.

When I was young, I was attracted to practical solution, which led to my interest in physics. For students aspiring to work in mining or technology, keep in mind that sectors like health, biotech, aerospace, and mining are important to Canada’s future job landscape.

The key message I want to give to young people is: you must have a vision. Without one, you will always be behind. Be ambitious and realistic. If you want to do something, it takes will and ambition. At the beginning you might feel like you don’t have to means to make it happen—but keep working hard.

About the author

Mohamad Sabsabi

Mohamad Sabsabi is the high efficiency mining expert for the National Research Council Canada. Primarily a physicist, he has 25 years’ worth of experience applying laser-based technologies towards fields such as mining, metallurgy, and security. His role at the National Research Council Canada focuses on improving the process, costs, and resulting consumer products of mining, alongside researching how natural resources figures into the Canadian economy.