The Schulich School of Business at York University is capitalizing on the looming leader shortage in the mining sector by offering a first-of-its-kind MBA specialization in global mining management starting next fall.
The two-year program, expected to be announced Monday, aims to appeal to future executives, investment bankers, analysts and other professionals eyeing a top-level career in the risk-driven resources sector.
"It's great succession planning for the industry," said Richard Ross, an executive in residence at Schulich and former chief executive at Inmet Mining Corp.
The Toronto-based MBA program is expected to crank out future mining executives at a time when many of the current, often colourful, company founders are poised for retirement.
Replacements are becoming more difficult to find, reflecting the overall shortage of workers in a sector that has grown rapidly in recent years as companies take advantage of rising demand for resources.
Last week, Sherritt International Corp. 's Ian Delaney announced his second retirement as chief executive, saying he would have left sooner but felt his successors weren't quite ready.
A handful of other CEOs have also come back from retirement to head mining companies in recent years.
Labour shortages are one of the biggest problems facing the mining industry and collaboration with universities is one way to help prevent operational problems down the road, says a new report from consultancy Deloitte.
"Mining companies must now pursue longer-term, farther-reaching and perhaps less conventional solutions or they may find themselves facing imminent operational disruptions," the report warns.
Schulich's specialized MBA program will include courses focused on managing companies and projects through various stages of the commodity cycle, as well as in the more remote areas miners must go to find resources. Matters of increasing government intervention and higher environmental standards in the industry will also be part of the curriculum.
"It's a very challenging time in the history of the mining sector due to the increasingly complex social, environmental and political climates worldwide," Mr. Ross said. "I think it's that level of complexity that is making more demands on industry leadership."
Schulich began researching a possible mining MBA specialization 18 months ago, after being approached by the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum, a professional industry association.
Schulich hired Mr. Ross last summer to help create the program. The school is looking for an industry leader with some academic background to chair the program.
Schulich, named after mining entrepreneur Seymour Schulich, will begin marketing the specialized MBA program to potential students worldwide next month.
Tuition fees for the 16-month full-time program, which will take two years to complete, are $55,000 for Canadian students and $60,000 for international students.
"An MBA specialization in mining is long overdue," said Schulich dean Dezsö J. Horváth, citing the anticipated growth in demand for metals that it expected to continue over the next decade.
The program is expected to draw candidates from around the world, given Canada's prominent position in the global mining sector, Mr. Horvath said. Canadian-listed miners account for 58 per cent of the world's mining companies; 80 per cent of the world's mining equity financings have been done on the Toronto exchanges, statistics show.
"I think it's a great idea," said Goldcorp Inc. chairman Ian Telfer, an industry veteran who has started a handful of mining companies in his career. "As far as I know this is the first of its kind in the world, and it's appropriate that its being done in Canada because mining continues to be a cornerstone of the Canadian economy."