Mining in Australia – Sector Overview
Australia’s reputation as the “lucky country” comes from prosperity linked to its abundance of natural resources, a boom that continues to drive the economy. The stats are staggering, with Australia the world’s leading producer of bauxite, alumina, ilmenite, rutile, zircon, synthetic rutile and tantalum, second largest producer of gold, iron ore, lead, uranium, diamonds (by weight) and zinc, and a large producer of close to a dozen other valuable resources. While the economic downturn has had an impact on the industry, at the end of 2011 there were 102 projects with a record capital expenditure of $231.8 billion. While mining directly employs only about two percent of the Australian workforce, its value is many times that figure, and people are always needed to fill a multitude of roles. Jobs range from professional careers such as engineering (civil, structural, electrical, environmental, geological, mechanical, chemical, process, mining), surveying, geoscience, health and safety, legal, community relations and financial, to more trades based roles as truck drivers, cooks, labourers, field assistant, fitting and machining, electronics and equipment operators.
Mining in Australia – Location
By its very nature, Australia’s mines are located in remote, hard to reach areas. Mining occurs in every state and territory. Major areas include the Pilbura, Goldfields and Peel regions of Western Australia, the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, the Bowen Basin in Queensland and the Latrobe Valley in Victory. Operations are based around towns and cities such as Kalgoorlie, Mount Isa, Mount Morgan and Broken Hill. Mines in remote locations often work on a fly-in fly-out basis, whereby workers travel to the site for a period of work, before returning to their family in a bigger town or city for time off. Stints of work can be in excess of three weeks.
Mining in Australia – Skills and Qualifications
There has been a belief that it is possible to turn-up to a mining operation without any relevant skills and immediately start earning the big bucks. While there may be the odd exception, highly paid jobs are generally available for well qualified and experienced candidates. A graduate degree in a relevant field (e.g. chemical engineering) as well as work experience are a must, while previous time spent working at a mine will be looked upon favourably. Regardless of the role, most mines will require employees to gain certain tickets or qualifications, or site safety inductions at the very least. There are also likely to be security and health checks and drug and alcohol assessments made.
Mining in Australia – Key Recruiters and Employers
There is a bewildering array of companies involved in the Australian mining industry, from the heavy-hitting global conglomerates, to the local business that provides lunch. Some of the major players include BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Vale, Newcrest Mining, Alcoa and Barrick Gold. Much of the work is delegated to contractors and sub-contractors. Having contacts in the mining industry can be a fantastic way to get a job or hear about potential opportunities.
- Mining Employment Services
- Skye Recruitment
- Rock People
- Synergy Sourcing
- TIS Recruitment
Mining in Australia – Pay
Mining can be a well-paid occupation, with skills and experience duly rewarded. Generally speaking, roles can start at around the $70,000 mark and head upwards. Balanced against the high pay is a tough lifestyle of long and hot days, potentially dangerous working environments, and living in country towns with sky-high prices.