What is a fair wage for an unskilled mining worker?
Before we look at what an entry-level employee could receive, let’s go back a step and look at the salaries of people with between six months and two years’ Australian mining industry experience.
First, it’s worth noting that these salaries vary depending on:
To allow for these differences, in our examples below we have used salary ranges to provide an overview of salaries offered.
Underground mining jobs
Underground roles for people with six to 12 months’ experience range from $75,000 to $90,000. Relevant roles include Nippers, Labourers, Offsiders and Trainee Truck Drivers.
As people gain further experience and progress into more skilled roles in an underground mining environment the salary levels increase. A Truck Driver with two to three years’ experience is likely to receive a salary of up to $95,000 plus bonuses.
The large salary levels for underground mining jobs are for roles like Jumbo Operators or Shift Supervisors. Base salaries can be up to $200,000 a year but these positions can only be obtained after meeting a requisite level of experience – including, in the case of a supervisory role, formal study and an examination.
In our experience for an entry-level mining job it is likely your starting salary would be closer to $70,000 to $75,000, depending on the variables listed above.
Surface mining jobs
Salary levels for mining jobs on the surface of a mine are similar in pay to underground roles. For a person with six to 12 months’ experience, salaries are between $70,000 and $90,000. After a few years’ experience, salaries could head into triple digits. However, the reality is significant experience is needed for a semi-skilled professional to reach a high $100,000 base salary range.
A common entry-level mining role is a Drillers Offsider. These positions are generally paid at a “shift rate” and can vary between $380 and $450 a shift. It is difficult to calculate an annual salary, because of the variances in rosters.
Salary ranges across Australia for mechanical trades in mining range from $70,000 to $145,000. For electricians the salary range is similar, but with specialist skills, and instrumentation technicians could earn up to $160,000.
A qualified trades person without mining experience may start at the lower end of the salary scale but as relevant skills and experience increase, so will the salary.
It is important to recognise that transitioning to a new industry as a tradesperson does not always ensure full rates are offered. There is a learning curve. Some companies fast-track learning with extensive training and development through structured programs.
University graduates who have completed three to four years of study and have hopefully completed several months of relevant mining experience during their vacation time will start on an approximate salary of between $60,000 and $100,000.
Graduates bring a lot of theoretical knowledge and, for some, practical experience. In reality a graduate program is an extension of their university studies. Some companies have structured development programs for mining graduates that include changes to remuneration over the course of the program. Starting salaries vary but it is not uncommon for graduate salaries to be equivalent to those of a skilled operational employee with two to four years’ experience.
Managers with university degrees and significant experience in the industry can earn between $130,000 and $240,000. Operations Managers can earn up to $260,000.
As you can see, base salaries for roles in the mining industry range from about $70,000 for entry level, to $250,000 for experienced professionals.
If you want to get your start in mining, it’s important to be realistic about the salary you will earn in the first year of employment. Remember that you are learning a new role and it will take a while until you know all the requirements and can do the job well.
There will always be positions that require minimal learning, like labouring, but many of the entry-level mining jobs being advertised actually require several months of training and experience.