Salient to Investors:

PayScale reports 2012 graduates from South Dakota School of Mines & Technology received a median salary of $56,700 versus $54,100 for graduates from Harvard. says shortages in mine engineering and project management are acute, driving tremendous salary inflation.

New mineral deposits are getting harder to find, and companies are struggling to add enough skilled workers. 40,000 people were employed in U.S. metals mining in 2011, versus less than 28,000 in 2004 and 58,000 in 1993.

The unemployment rate for 20-to-24 year olds with Bachelor’s degrees was 11.8 percent in July.

Frank Holmes at U.S. Global Investors says the labor squeeze is boosting the cost of new projects and may limit production growth, especially in copper, while ore grades are lower, fuel costs are higher, and labor costs are higher, putting a floor under copper prices.

Morgan Stanley expects a fourth consecutive year of global copper supply shortages in 2013.  Goldman Sachs expects copper to rise to $9,000 a metric ton by year-end 2012.

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