Optimism for job seekers in Australia’s mining industry has gradually increased for around two years now. The rising buoyancy has been reflected in research by recruitment agency Hays.
The recruiters found that 47 per cent of employers expect permanent staff levels to increase this year, while 22 per cent expect to increase their use of temporary and contract staff.
According to the 2018-19 Hays Salary Guide, the trend of employing temporary and contract staff on a regular, ongoing basis will also continue, with 24 per cent of employers now doing this (up from 23 per cent last year).
The re-emergence of skills shortages in the mining industry has been regularly reported by Australian Mining since July last year. Overcoming this growing issue, in professions like engineering, is a priority for mining companies and industry organisations.
“For mining engineering the moving average trend for university completions from 2017 to 2020 is expected to decline by 81 per cent. In the same period, labour demand is expected to decline by only 13 per cent,” according to the Minerals Council of Australia.
On the flipside, the mining industry’s revival has created numerous job hotspots around the country.
Here is where Hays is finding that skills are in demand (all commentary below attributed to Hays):
Geologists and field assistants are sought as exploration budgets have increased, especially in gold and base metals.
Maintenance planners with SAP experience are in demand to assist with high production targets. SAP is also the most common system used.
Drill and blast operators with experience in Pit Vipers, T45, L7s and 1100 drill rigs are needed.
HD fitters are sought to assist with high production targets to ensure mobile plant equipment keeps moving. Contractors are recruiting overseas candidates and fitters from other similar industries, such as agriculture.
793F dump truck operators are highly sought after since this is the most commonly used machine in production mining.
Employers are offering higher hourly rates and flexible rosters to attract candidates.
Queensland needs HD Fitters.
Dragline operators are in demand too as new draglines have arrived on multiple sites in the Bowen Basin. However, there has traditionally been a small pool of dragline operators in the state.
Excavator operators are also sought. With rates increasing for these candidates, Excavator operators are able to select which role they will accept.
Diesel fitters, auto electricians and CNC machinists with suitable mining experience are in high demand but short supply as mining companies spend more on their earthmoving equipment.
Boilermakers with mining experience are sought as the number of projects increases in Queensland. However, there are few candidates interested in a workshop role. For the same reason, mechanical fitters are sought.
Electricians are in short supply as they are also sought for roles in the solar and construction industries.
Underground jumbo operators are in high demand internationally. Many people have pursued opportunities overseas, thus reducing the local talent pool.
Rising optimism is fuelling demand for heavy diesel fitters with experience on specific machinery such as Cat, Komatsu and Liebherr.
Auto electricians are sought, with contractors looking for candidates with experience using the particular machinery used onsite in additional to strong previous industry experience.
Refrigeration technicians are required across a number of sites in the Territory, however there is a shortage of suitable candidates.
NDT technicians with specific certificates within the trade are needed. There are candidates interstate who are available for longer rosters such as 2:1/2:2, but there is only a small pool of candidates in the Territory who are available for Monday to Friday rosters.
All-round operators are in demand too. Sites require candidates with broad experience operating dozers, excavators and articulated dump trucks.
New South Wales
Boilermakers, mechanical fitters, underground electricians and drill fitters are all in demand across all mining sectors in the Hunter and Western regional areas of the state. Trade requirements will increase as more mines approve tonnage increases.
Site supervisors, project managers, exploration geologists and mining managers are also in increasing demand again as production begins to ramp back up, movement in the sector becomes more regular and funds for extended applications become available.
Electrical engineers with HV design experience in 11kv to 132kv primary and secondary systems have become hot property since a number of energy sites are currently under construction and connecting to the grid.
Control system engineers with heavy industry experience in programming PLC and SCADA systems are scarce. Demand has been from contracting firms for the major mining sites.
Mechanical fitters and boilermakers are still in high demand for mining and energy as construction projects in resources increase across the state.
Heavy diesel fitters and processing and laboratory technicians for crushing, milling and leaching operations for both lab and site are in short supply as production increases.
Like NSW, Queensland and South Australia, boilermakers are sought since most transitioned into manufacturing during the downturn and now enjoy more family friendly rosters.
In addition, heavy diesel mechanics are in high demand in the quarry industry following a boom in the construction trade. Employers require HD mechanics with experience in Cat, Komatsu and Ford.
Mechanical fitters are in continuous demand in Victoria. During the downturn, many moved into the manufacturing and construction industries, where they remain due to improved work-life balance and salaries.
All-round operators are in demand too. Like in the Northern Territory, employers require candidates with broad experience operating dozers, excavators and articulated dump trucks.