METS revenue suffers but hope remains: Austmine survey


More than half of Australia’s mining equipment, technology and services (METS) companies suffered a decrease in revenue in 2019, according to Austmine’s National METS survey for 2020.

A total of 619 METS companies engaged with the survey, compared with 432 when the survey last took place in 2015.

The survey found businesses believe collaboration and innovation will be key to progressing the industry, while 22 per cent saw highly skilled staff as the biggest competitive advantage.

As expected, 73 per cent of companies felt a net negative impact from COVID-19, while 35 per cent said the pandemic had positive effects such as new customers and projects (22 per cent), an increase in revenue (13 per cent) and an increase in employees (9 per cent).

A lack of diversity was found for the Australian METS sector, with only small portions considered women or Indigenous-owned.

“Of those surveyed, 12 per cent of METS companies identify as being woman-owned (more than 50 per cent women ownership) or women-led (more than 30 per cent women in leadership positions for publicly listed organisations), 5 per cent are certified with Supply Nation, and 4 per cent identify as being Indigenous-owned,” the results stated.

Most companies (38 per cent) earned between $200,000 to $4.99 million for the 2019 financial year, equating to a total $114 billion in revenue from all 619 respondents.

The survey found a transition to less full-time employees, as an increase in firms with one to 19 employees has risen in the years the survey has run – 2013, 2015 and 2020.

“The workforce composition seems to be shifting to one comprising more contractors and part-time employees – likely due to an increase in contractors and/or part-time roles, and a general desire for employers to have a more flexible payroll structure. Global forecasters expect this trend to continue to grow,” the survey stated.

While 27 per cent of respondents in 2013 had one to 19 employees, that number has now risen to 51 per cent.

A contrast in ownership can be seen in service providers and manufacturers. While 48 per cent of the former are Australian-owned compared to 21 per cent foreign-owned, that figure flips for manufacturing companies.

Only 24 per cent of manufacturers in Australia are locally owned and 48 per cent are owned offshore.

The survey found a majority (64 per cent) of respondents work in the production/extraction part of the mining lifecycle, while just 7 per cent operated in all parts of the lifecycle.

The number one minerals base worked by METS companies was coal (68 per cent), as iron ore dropped from equal first in 2015 down to second at 61 per cent.

Critical minerals saw the biggest jump, up 13 per cent to 47 per cent of all respondents.

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