As a translator, interpreter and a project manager who has worked with over 70 mining companies, engineering firms and mining software companies, I have seen and lived through the mining industry’s ups and downs in my 24 years of experience; today I am seeing a broad industry downturn.
I have personally translated the complete feasibility study for one of the largest gold mine construction projects in the world today, and my multilingual team has translated many feasibility studies, environmental studies, corporate sustainability reports, tailings reports, pipelines assessments, web sites, contracts, policies, procedures, etc. for some of the largest mining companies around.
From the translation professional’s perspective, I see two issues / problems emerging:
- Transfer of knowledge – during a downturn people leave a company, often with little notice, resulting in situations where nobody knows who was responsible for maintaining the translation memories and/or bilingual databases, or where these items are located, for all the company’s projects that are on hold/stand-by while the company waits for the commodity prices to go up. When the projects do proceed, if there was no transfer of knowledge, then the company often has to pay for translations again which were already complete, or were only updated, causing extra costs to re-invent the wheel. I have experienced this first hand because when one of the largest mining companies in Vancouver was acquired in 2003, I was asked by the acquiring company to translate a project’s feasibility study (which had undergone small updates), however, I had already completed over 70% of the translation this project for my original client who had been acquired!
- Using unskilled staff or over qualified staff – during a downturn, companies try to keep their staff occupied and minimize external costs; this leads to an assumption that because the person in the reception is bilingual, for example, he or she can translate or edit documents. However, as we say in Spanish “lo bonito, cuesta caro” (cheap things are expensive in the long run). That person in reception may be great as a receptionist, but likely has no idea about translating at a professional level (i.e. the choices in the use of the language, new grammar and punctuation updates) where life and death consequence may very well arise from the translation. On the other hand, using your lawyer to translate isn’t smart because his or her $300 to $500 per hour rate is better spent on doing what he was trained to do. To round my point, neither of these two people will be using translation memory software and they will tend re-invent the wheel over and over again choosing words and phrases for which you may already have a corporate preference.
What do you think?
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