Miners in WA’s Goldfields pursue unskilled workers

An abundance of positions that have the potential of fetching an annual salary of $82,000 is being offered for unskilled workers in Western Australia’s Goldfields region, according to human resources business Mining People International (MPI).

Unskilled workers, once dismissed by mining companies, are now in demand in WA’s mining industry, with iron ore company Roy Hill also offering positions for inexperienced personnel at its Pilbara operations.

The state’s gold industry has been resurgent over the past year, which has caused miners and exploration companies in the Goldfields region to pursue more Kalgoorlie-based workers.

MPI’s Kalgoorlie workforce operations general manager Shane Moore said there had been a huge surge in demand for locally-based workers from mine operators, skilled and unskilled.

“There is a lot of entry-level work available, but because we’re not getting a lot of new blood into the town, even those jobs are tough to fill or remain unfilled,” Moore said.

Moore said just one-sixth of the number of candidates compared with the height of the mining boom were currently available, creating a situation where “big salaries for inexperienced workers” were being offered.

“An entry-level person could earn about $28 an hour. Working a two weeks on, one week off roster, that equates to about an $82,000 base salary,” Moore said.

He explained the hourly rate might be comparable to a labourer outside the mining industry, but the number of hours attached to the roster is what enables an unskilled person to earn this salary in a mining job.

Hays Recruitment told Australian Mining earlier this year that skill shortages were starting to emerge in the mining industry and companies were more willing to employ candidates with no previous experience.

Chris Kent, Hays Resources & Mining WA state regional director, said it was preferred that the candidates had professional experience in an industry that faced comparable challenges to mining.

Kent also explained that the trade-off to employing candidates without previous mining experience was that it created more roles for temporary or contract workers.

The need for experience in another industry does not seem to be a factor in the recruitment drive for unskilled mine workers in Kalgoorlie, according to MPI’s analysis.

Moore believes jobseekers are instead reluctant to move to the Goldfields city because they are either experienced and enjoy FIFO, or they have turned away from mining after witnessing the recent downturn.

“But there’s also a sense that many in the broader community don’t really know this uptick is happening,” Moore said.

The labour shortage in Kalgoorlie extends to senior level operators, trades and technical staff, MPI revealed, with auto-electricians, HD fitters, dozer drivers, excavator drivers and dump truck drivers in short supply.

A Kalgoorlie gold company general manager also told MPI that it was “extremely hard” to lure a mining engineer with three to five years’ experience to the city.