We are the MPD, but who are we?

By Amy E. Jacobsen posted 08-11-2017 02:02 PM


Every month, we put out a Fine Grind article in Mining Engineering to keep members in touch with the latest happenings, technical updates and other interesting news from the MPD division. This is the Fine Grind that appeared in the August 2017 issue. We invite you to comment, discuss or ask questions!

Amy Jacobsen, Secretary Treasurer
2017-2018 Mineral & Metallurgical Processing Division Executive Committee

August 2017 Fine Grind

We are the MPD, but who are we?

by Garland Davis & Ronel Kappes, MPD Executive Committee

The Mineral & Metallurgical Processing Division (MPD) Executive Committee recently conducted a survey to assess engagement and expectations from division membership. About 12 percent of MPD membership responded to this survey. The outcomes from the survey are being used by the MPD Executive Committee to guide MPD’s mission and vision. With this information, the MPD can also assess member demographics and obtain a better understanding of who we are to better serve the division membership.

Based on recent SME membership rolls, there are approximately 1,700 MPD members. MPD members average 18 years of SME membership. More than 100 of our division members have joined SME during the past year, many of whom are student members, with others joining as professional or registered members. On the other end of the scale, a similar number of division members are Legion of Honor members with more than 50 years of SME membership. Two of our members have been members for 78 years, having joined the society in 1939.

MPD members have diverse work experiences, ranging from students to retirees, including engineering or technical roles, supervisory, managerial, sales and executive professional responsibilities working for businesses ranging from sole proprietorships to major public corporations. Slightly more than a quarter of MPD members are employed by producing companies. The balance of our members work for suppliers of services, equipment, consumables and reagents or work or study in academia. A small number represent the world of banking and finance or government regulatory agencies.

The SME vision is to be recognized as the pre-eminent professional society representing the global mining industry. MPD membership represents 42 countries, with members predominantly based in North America and other countries where English is commonly spoken.

What can be gained from the MPD demographics and survey? Our 2016 member survey indicated technical content, networking and recruiting to the industry are of significant value to division members.

If recent trends continue, there should be a continuing wave of new members. Roughly one-third of MPD members have less than five years of SME membership, and we can reasonably assume most are just starting in their professional careers within the mining industry. On the other end of the scale, there are a combined 40 percent of members with more than 20 years of membership in the society. We can infer that these members have had careers in the industry, and they offer work experience, knowledge and wisdom. These senior members, through networking and mentorship, should inspire those incoming, junior members to actively participate within the division and the society as a whole. Further investigation into membership demographics reveals that the less-than-five-year member classification shows increasing geographic diversity as compared to the balance of the member population. MPD membership remains biased toward North America, but there is a growing trend toward
membership in Latin America and other regions.

Is this a reflection of the growing mining industry and work opportunities in these areas or the result of SME’s strategic plan of increased exposure and representation of SME globally, establishing student and local sections outside of North America? Recognizing change on the horizon allows
us the opportunity to plan accordingly. Is there a growing need for a dual-language meeting, transcripts or publications in our future?

Finally, 10 percent of MPD membership is female. However, there appears to be a sustainable change in women participating in SME. At the 2017 Annual Conference & Expo in Denver, CO, we celebrated 100 years of WAAIME. And within the MPD, there is an increasing number of female members, with the majority falling in the less-than-five-year member classification. This trend should continue, as more female members seek professional and leadership opportunities to advance their careers in the industry.

Lead, follow, or get out of the way — for with the MPD, as with everything else, change is inevitable. Understanding who we are and planning for change creates a future vision for our division.