Workplace flexibility is increasingly attractive to the next generation of workers. Macmahon is developing maintenance crews with the desire to go from site to site through its Mining Maintenance Masters program.
The competition for maintenance specialists is high.
Mining companies have to not only compete with their industry peers for skilled crews, but also externally with construction, engineering and electrical firms.
With maintenance an area that remains essential despite the onset of automation, the appetite for recruiting the right talent is not yet extinguished.
Mining services company Macmahon Holdings has set a strategy to stay ahead of the competition by surveying the market to find out the barriers it faces in attracting the leading candidates.
“One thing we found from our research was that there was a large group of young tradesmen who want to be able to move from site to site,” Macmahon general manager Mark Hatfield tells Australian Mining.
“They’re not very interested in the benefits that come with full-time jobs. They’re at an age where they’re young, fit and capable to deliver – they want to earn higher, casual fees instead of becoming permanent employees.”
Macmahon launched the Mining Maintenance Masters (MMM) program as a platform that provides this opportunity.
The program enables maintenance crews to go from site to site across Macmahon’s Western Australian portfolio, but they are still treated like a valued employee.
The broad range of work offered starts from supporting Macmahon’s base workshops, through to on-site operations where employees perform a variety of maintenance work including breakdown work and specialty jobs, and assisting mining companies in start-up operations.
The MMM program will target up to 70 people, who will rotate through Macmahon’s Western Australian projects. Macmahon plans to raise the capacity up to 90 maintenance masters within 18 months to support its entire Australian operations.
“Once they gain experience across the Macmahon portfolio, they get to know our people and soon discover they love working for the company. This opens up the opportunity for them to become a permanent employee on a site that ultimately suits them,” Hatfield says.
“If they want to earn casual rates, we’re happy to accommodate that until the time comes and they want to become permanent. This group will help support the peak requirements that every site goes through.”
Macmahon provides an enviable portfolio of sites for any young tradesperson to begin their career. With four workshops across Australia, the company delivers services at BHP’s Olympic Dam operation in South Australia, BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA)’s Peak Downs and Saraji coal mines in Queensland; Kirkland Lake Gold’s Fosterville mine in Victoria; and Newmont’s Tanami gold mine in the Northern Territory.
In Western Australia, Macmahon is contracted at the Tropicana joint venture between AngloGold Ashanti and IGO, Newcrest Mining’s Telfer mine and Dacian Gold’s Mt Morgans operation.
The MMM team has the opportunity to work on Macmahon’s national fleet of 500 pieces of equipment across its mobile plant portfolio.
“We’ve just taken a large delivery of Liebherr R 9800 excavators for the Byerwen coal mine in Queensland,” Hatfield says.
“They themselves have three, and the operator QCoal just received 16 Hitachi EH5000s. These haul trucks will be operating at Byerwen alongside 20 Cat 793 dump trucks and five Cat D10 dozers, plus other ancillary equipment.”
Macmahon is committed to developing its people, growing them through their apprenticeship program as an avenue for skills development and raising them to be future leaders in the business.
Hatfield says the MMM program is improving the attractiveness of the company as a place to work and gives workers the ability to grow their career. This ambition is propped up by Macmahon’s technical training department, which trains employees on all the basic equipment that the company runs.
The department is responsible for technology improvements so the company can deliver value through technology and realise its vision to be an advanced mining contractor of the future.
“One thing that Macmahon looks for in its potential recruits, however, is a focus and appreciation for working safely on site. If they have that, then we can help them to develop any skills shortage they may have through our technical training department. As long as they’ve got the right attitude, we can be sure we’ll be successful in training them,” Hatfield concludes.
This article also appears in the August edition of Australian Mining.