Mining industry riding out labour force issues: ABS

Kalgoorlie

The mining industry saw a drop in employed people from May to August 2021, as more staff worked zero hours, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The ABS’ detailed report on the Australian labour force for last month found mining industry employment dropped by 2.3 per cent in the three months to August 2021.

This coincided with a rise in online mining job vacancies which rose by 17 per cent from March to August 2021, according to the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA).

The ABS also found that 11.8 per cent of mining staff worked zero hours in August 2021 – up from 10.5 per cent in May.

Many mining companies have reported the effects of COVID-19 related labour shortages in 2021, as staff have been unable to cross Australian state borders for work.

These included Albermarle at its Kemerton lithium plant, Red 5 at its King of the Hills gold mine, and Westgold Resources’ Bluebird gold mine – all in Western Australia.

Despite the time off work, the mining industry retained 79.5 per cent of its workforce from May to August 2021, according to the ABS.

This was the fifth highest retention rate in Australia, beating out construction (75.4 per cent), manufacturing (70.3 per cent), and electricity, gas, water and waste services (63.8 per cent.

Over the same time, 16.3 per cent changed industry from mining into another, and 4.2 per cent of mining staff became unemployed in August.

The labour force report followed a more promising earnings report from the ABS, released in August for the May 2021 quarter.

The earnings report found a return to full-time records, with the mining industry raking in $2743.50 per week – beating May 2020’s record by $10.

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