Mining jobs remain tight with lower salaries ahead

The latest Hays Salary Survey has highlighted the dearth of jobs in mining, with flat wages ahead.

 “Many [miners] are going through major structural changes in an attempt to remain profitable,” the survey said.

Much of this is driven by the volatile commodity market, and the shift from an era of construction to production.

“In the past 12 month, major producers have been looking to their operations for the majority of their cost savings but with much of the commissioning of new projects now complete, attention is turning to the reduction of wages in operations and maintenance,” Hays stated.

It painted a bleak picture of the state of resources jobs nationally, explaining “salaries will remain steady and new jobs will be scarce”.

However for skilled workers there are still opportunities.

“Specialised and highly skilled contract staff are increasingly being hired to relive operations, but also to drive process improvement and cost reduction strategies.”

Western Australia, with its heavier focus on iron ore, is unlikely to see a growth in jobs and salaries, however a recent increase in gold exploration as well as M&A activity posits future job creation in the sector.

However “while new permanent roles have been rare over the past year, those on offer will come with lower salaries, particularly in areas such as health and safety”.

Queensland has already seen a knife taken to mining wages, although there is some positive news ahead for the state, with stabilisation in coal expected.

“We have [also] seen an increase in short term contract vacancies for candidates who have current medicals and inductions and are ready to go on DIDO friendly rosters, and we expect this to continue,” Hays said.

There is also expected growth in the areas of reliability and maintenance, as well as brownfield mine engineering.

New South Wales is also expected to see early positive growth due to coal stabilisation.

“[NSW] coal miners are expected to be some of the first of the nation’s miners to see stability and even pockets of growth since they were one of the first to go into price decline a number of years ago.”

In a similar fashion to WA, NSW’s gold sector is also expected to grow due to an increase in exploration, particularly in the mid-west, “and this will likely impact salaries positively”.

South Australia is predicted to be a tighter market.

“South Australia’s lack of new project commencements has heightened the need for candidates with brownfield maintenance experience.”

The rest of Australia is also under pressure.

“Mining activity has slowed in the Northern Territory with several large mines going into care and maintenance mode and other key mines reducing costs due to commodity price fall,” Hays said.

“We expect this region, as well as Victoria and Tasmania, to follow the trends of their larger neighbours as they ride the wave of global price volatility for their respective commodities.”

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