New open-pit mines, new flotation process, larger production apparatus. For Lisa Allan, HR Partner at Kaunis Iron, these are hectic times.“Finding the right people for the right jobs is a challenge. But we’re recruiting regionally, nationally and internationally.”
Kaunis Iron is growing, the new Sahavaara open-pit mine is in the offing, and right now a new flotation process is under construction alongside the concentrator in Kaunisvaara. Step-by-step, the new Kaunis Iron is taking shape in a project known as Kaunis Iron 2.0.
For HR Partner Lisa Allan, this means her work to ensure Kaunis Iron gets new employees with the right skills is intensifying: "Finding the right people for the right jobs, that's always a challenge. And obviously finding experienced people, and educated in the field that we need them to be in. That's the biggest challenge." “It’s important for HR that we find the right partners to help us recruit such skills. We’re also working with external recruiters to assist in finding strong pools of candidates". The region is currently overheated due to the establishment of a number of major industrial companies; there is talk of investments totalling hundreds of billions (SEK) in new fossil-free steel plants and new businesses.
So the competition for new employees is expected to get tougher once the new industries start recruiting. But Kaunis Iron has identified a unique recruitment source – South Africa.
Lisa goes on further to say that Kaunis Iron is starting to be known within the South African mining circles and establishing itself as a potential employer.
And Lisa Allan has a personal connection with South Africa, having made the same journey herself. “My family and I decided to make a big change in our lives and leave South Africa. Previously, we had actually lived in Skåne for a while, so we had an idea of what it was like to live in Sweden, although it is quite different to the south of Sweden up here."
The move to Pajala was quite a change, from South Africa’s mild climate without any major seasonal changes during the year, to Pajala’s sharp contrast from summer with the midnight sun and +25 °C, to a snowbound winter landscape, the northern lights and -25 °C. Lisa goes on to talk about the move being a pretty big one but a good one. Her family have settled in well, have been warmly welcomed and taken care of and they are very happy that they made the move. Now that it’s her turn to be the recruiter, how does she sell Pajala to other South Africans, what is her elevator pitch”? We try to build a straightforward and transparent picture of what it is like. We think it's so important that people have the right expectations...you need to see both sides, the benefits but also the challenges...our goal is to ensure candidates have all the information they need to make an informed decision.
“So we also invite partners to visit us at the end of the recruitment process, partly so we get to meet them to ensure the fit is good, but mainly so they get to experience the area and the mine themselves. They get to meet potential colleagues and see schools and shops, in fact anything they might be curious about.”
Because Kaunisvaara is so close to Finland, there are a number of Finnish citizens who commute to work at Kaunis Iron.
“We've started working more actively in Finland as there are recruitment opportunities there that we may be able to leverage off. We need to look for existing opportunities in our neighbourhood, whilst also working internationally,” says Lisa Allan.
Lisa Allan talks about life in Pajala over lunch at the mining office in Kaunisvaara. A couple from South Africa are visiting to see if their future might be here, in Norrbotten.
Photo: Ronny Olovsson