Over recent weeks there have been a few queries to the info email account about the job market, what the outlook is, and what do we think will happen in the next few years. This is a multi-tiered answer and there is certainly no ‘one size fits all…..’
In the past few years, “total mining employment statistics” have included those employed on construction projects within the mining/resources industry and there were thousands of people working on these projects. As these projects move to the operational phase, the number of people employed in the industry has naturally decreased.
From here on, I will talk about ‘operational roles’ because I am fairly certain that is what many of you reading these blogs want to know about.
The fact is that operational roles have declined in recent years for all sorts of reasons, these being sites have closed, some companies have reduced numbers of operational staff, automation and centralisation.
But in recent weeks, there have been some positive signs. Companies are advertising again, near mine exploration is occurring, some of the major companies are partnering with junior explorers in Australia and more recently Newcrest stated they plan to grow through exploration not acquisition. These are all positive signs for employment in the mining industry for the rest of 2016 and beyond.
What does all this mean for the likelihood of people like you getting a start? Well right now, it is still challenging for a lot of people, but the industry will gain momentum, and when it does, make sure you are well placed to be in the ‘right place at the right time.’
Diary of a FIFO worker. Ever wondered what it is like being a FIFO worker? Well I hope you don’t mind early starts and long days….
My roster begins bright and early on a Tuesday at 3:45am with an alarm screeching in my ear. It is still pitch black outside, but in winter it is even worse. Check in is at 5:00am and with a 30 minute drive to the airport, there is no time to waste. I have time to shower, grab a piece of toast and dress ready for work, boots n all before out the door and into the car for the drive to the airport by 4:15am.
I get to the airport with a few minutes to spare and as always the longest line is for the coffee van parked outside the terminal. We board at 5:40am and take off is 5:55am. The airspace over Perth is one of the busiest with the number of FIFO sites and there is a line of planes waiting to take off.
Flying time is generally 90 minutes and we arrive at camp at 7:45am where there is usually enough time to drop my bag off, grab some takeaway lunch and be back on the bus for the 5 minute ride to site. There it is time to catch up with my back to back, talk about the last 6 days, catch up with the outgoing crews and ensure I have covered off on the previous week as this crew is out on R&R today and my crew take over. There are production, safety and planning meetings to attend and a week’s worth of emails to reply to.
My first day usually ends around 7:00pm, (some 15 hours from when I woke to the alarm), and I head back to the village, grab some takeaway dinner, head to my room, shower, eat, call home and maybe catch the 8:30 news. Thus ends day 1 of 8. The next 7 days are up at 4:30am, breakfast, at work for shift change at 5:30am. Each day ends at a similar time to day 1. I generally work 13+hours on site for days 2-7. In total, I get about 56 hours’ sleep total while on site for 7 nights.
Day 8 is fly out day, where if I am lucky and nothing needs my attention, I have time to get back to the village, shower and change before catching the plane home at 4:30pm. I walk through my front door and am home by 7:00pm.
Hours worked; 106
Hours sleep; 105 (average 7 on site, 8 on R&R)
Hours Flying; 6
R&R (Awake); 84
Meals, Travel (Work& Home); 35
Growing up in a small town in Tasmania, opportunities were few and far between, so on leaving school I completed an apprenticeship unrelated to the mining industry. A few years later I heard about a vacancy through an old school friend at a local mine. I applied, and was successful in securing the position as a Trainee Processing Operator. (At that time there were not a lot of people wanting to work in the mining industry and prepared to live in a small town with one pub and one supermarket).
Back then, we worked 8 hour shifts. Dayshift was 8am to 4pm; Afternoons (4pm to midnight) and Nights (Midnight to 8am). We rotated through on 4 days, then started afternoons the next day, had a 4 day break, then did 4 nights, followed by another 4 days off.
From Tassie, I moved to WA for several years and then in the mid 2000’s, I was fortunate to secure a role overseas. I have lived overseas for a number of years in different parts of the world, worked with Australian and international companies and I am still working overseas on an 8 weeks on, 4 weeks off fly in and out roster from Australia as a Process Superintendent.
Side note on a previous blog.
Finally, those who read last fortnight’s blog about automation and the impact on roles, this is an interesting side story on the challenges that companies face now and into the future.