Mining is on the up, but will there be jobs for everyone?
In the past few weeks there have been several articles about wages returning to levels not seen since the boom, with companies engaged in bidding wars for key skills and predictions of a choke point in a few years’ time for several professions.
In WA alone there are several new operations either in development or being assessed for development.
Three of the “big four” miners in WA are all investing in new sites:
Other potential job opportunities are likely to arise from:
And on the East Coast, Adani is going ahead, several operations are expanding, and there are huge infrastructure projects underway.
All together the projects in construction could create around 8,000 to 10,000 jobs and, when in operation, there is the potential for some 4,000 to 5,000 mining jobs.
Now I’m no mathematician, but I am a recruitment expert, and I know that when construction ends, and the sites move into the operational phase, 4,000 to 5,000 people will no longer have work.
That’s simple maths. But as a recruitment expert, I also know the same skills will not apply for the different phases of the project. So realistically, these projects could provide work for some 5,000 people in the coming years.
So, what will some of these mining jobs be? We’ve compiled a basic list of some of the roles required during different phases of a project.
Construction Manager, Project Managers, Project Engineers, Site Managers, Civil Engineers, Electrical Engineers, Design Engineers, Safety Manager, Environmental Manager, Safety Inspectors, Trainers, Medics, Nurses.
Boilermakers, Welders, Mechanical Fitters, Pipe Fitters, Electricians, Instrumentation Technicians, Carpenters, Plumbers, Builders, Riggers, Dogman, Crane Operators, Concreters, Trade Assistants, Labourers, Civil Equipment Operators.
Camp Manager, Chefs, Kitchen Hands, Cleaners, Bar Staff, Bus Drivers, Purchasing and Procurement, Estimators, Contracts Administrators, Quality Controllers, Planners, Administration, Payroll.
Mining Managers, Mining Engineers, Geologists, Surveyors, Process Engineers, Metallurgists, Maintenance Management, Electrical Management, Mechanical Engineers.
Mechanical Fitters, Electricians, Instrumentation Technicians, Carpenters, Plumbers, Boilermakers, Welders, Mobile Equipment Operators, Process Operators, Laboratory Technicians.
Camp Manager, Chefs, Kitchen Hands, Cleaners, Bar Staff, Bus Drivers, Purchasing and Procurement, Administration, Payroll.
Few of mining’s professional roles can transition from construction to operations. Some of the Trades and Operators roles can, though, and several of the administrative support roles can, too. But the reality is different skills and experience are required in the different stages of a mining project’s life. The other variable is often people are drawn to construction jobs as they are fixed-term and often offer higher salaries than a permanent, ongoing role.
For an entry-level person, getting a start in construction is potentially even more challenging than in an operational mine. Construction projects are on incredibly tight time frames and engaging trainees in any of the positions, aside from general labouring, is simply not possible.
If you are interested in a labour or trade assistant role in a construction project, some of the key requirements include a first-aid qualification, experience operating forklifts or small mobile equipment, and a sound awareness of what is required when working “away”.
So, while the papers may be saying there is a jobs bonanza underway, a word of caution: few of these roles are likely to be entry-level positions.