The global slowdown has forced all mining companies to freeze recruitment until the full force of the crisis can be understood.
With Australia’s unemployment rate expected to rise to 5.75 per cent by June 2010, the once vibrant resources sector will not be immune to the fallout.
The industry has been culling staff at an increasing rate.
A growing list of base metals miners, mostly in the junior and mid-tier sectors, have been sacking staff as projects are delayed, mines shut down and production cut.
Canadian lead miner Ivernia cut 18 staff members from its Magellan lead mine in Western Australia to conserve cash.
Last week, zinc miner CBH Resources had to make further cuts to its staff, halving numbers at its Endeavour mine only two months after reducing staff by two-thirds.
Xstrata recently closed its Lennard Shelf mine because of low zinc prices and Perilya, which is being targeted by CBH in a hostile bid, slashed staff at its Broken Hill lead, zinc and silver mine by more than half.
Recruitment agency Mining People International managing director Steve Heather said inexperienced staff, who flocked to the prosperous industry with the promise of high salaries, will be the first to feel the pressure, as miners hang on to the skilled labour they have fought desperately to attract.
“Companies were employing people with no experience because they had no choice, but for the short term, they won’t have to do that any more. Mining companies will be more choosey,” Heather said.
“Exploration has been the hardest hit. It has basically been turned off over night.”
Consolidated Minerals has let staff go from its exploration and geology fields and Poseidon Nickel, Newcrest Mining, Mt Gibson Iron and nickel miner Minara Resources have also announced staff cuts.