By Ernest Scheyder
(Reuters) - Titans of the mining industry who have led the industry through myriad storms for decades are set to retire over the next few years, a once-in-a-generation turnover that has sparked a search for fresh talent with far different skills than current executives.
Ivan Glasenberg, chief executive of mining giant Glencore Plc
At least one other global mining giant has approached rival executives about their interest in moving, according to two sources.
The CEOs of Freeport McMoRan Inc
BHP Group Ltd
While the new crop of leaders will still need practical knowledge of how to run a successful mine, deep experience with digitisation, cybersecurity and diplomacy, among other skills, are increasingly seen as just as important.
"New skills are necessary for a new cycle," said Douglas Groh of Tocqueville Asset Management, a major gold investor holding shares in Agnico, Barrick Gold Corp
For mining executives that have been in their roles for years, "their approach is probably more appropriate for a different time," he said.
Boards are also pushing for candidates with gender and age diversity. This is a subtle pushback against an industry that has long been led by older men with extensive experience running mines but who now face emerging technologies, activist shareholders, and governments demanding bigger shares of mining revenues.
"Future mining leaders will need to focus less on how to get things out of the ground and more on sustainability and stakeholder engagement," said John Howard, head of the mining executive search practise at recruitment firm Heidrick and Struggles. "Because if you don't get that engagement right, you don't get to take things out of the ground."
BHP and Rio Tinto Ltd
"There is an international scramble for talent," said Alison Gaines, chief executive of Australia-based management consulting firm Gerard Daniels.
Some positions are located in remote regions, and the industry has struggled to ditch its "dirty" image. By contrast, the technology and finance industries, which are attracting top talent that might once have considered mining, are often located in large urban areas. Women, especially, have been hard to recruit for senior leadership positions in the mining industry. While Fortescue Metals Group Ltd
"There's a lot of art in mining, not just science," said John Byrne, managing partner of executive search firm Boyden in Chile. "Automation and artificial intelligence are going to be critical for the industry moving forward. They will have a direct impact on production costs."
For a graphic on Aging Mining Executives, see - https://tmsnrt.rs/2DSkqGY
(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Additional reporting by Susan Taylor and John Tilak in Toronto, Melanie Burton in Port Hedland, Australia, and Clara Denina in London; Editing by Bernadette Baum)