Mining salaries retreat to pre-boom era

Mining salaries are retreating to pre-boom levels, new research suggests.

A survey of over 1000 Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) and Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) personnel conducted by recruitment firm Safesearch found safety and environmental workers’ pay packets are shrinking as the mining boom comes off the boil.

Safesearch managing director Julie Honore said the decline reflects a retreat from the premium salaries required to lure essential talent during the height of the mining boom.

“We’ve seen a decline in the salaries being paid for mining safety manager positions, though it is important to note this was not triggered by a decline in the importance of mine safety,” Honore said.

Honore said a correlation between salary drops and the importance of safety in the mining sector shouldn’t be made.

“The importance of the safety function for all organisations is evident with nearly two-thirds (71 per cent) of survey respondents indicating their company has increased its commitment to health and safety in the past 12 months,” she said.

The survey also found that total annual remuneration packages for the most senior environmental roles dropped nine per cent in the past year while sustainability advisers experienced a six per cent decline.  

Safety and environmental departments haven’t been excluded from the mining sector’s cost cutting mantra with a number of respondents noting the “pressure to do more with less in safety is on the rise”.

According to the survey 43 per cent of WHS general managers are responsible for more than 50 sites, jumping six per cent from 2012.

Western Australian WHS and HSE managers have on average experienced a 20 per cent salary decline from $227,073 in 2012 to $179,836 in 2013.

Queensland’s results were similar, with the same roles seeing a 10.7 per cent drop in salary from $191,714 to $171,154 over the same period.

Both NSW and Victoria experienced slight increases with pays up 0.9 per cent and 2.9 per cent respectively.

While the softening mining sector is taking a chunk out of workers’ packages, the sector still has some of the highest paid roles nationally.

According to job website SEEK’s annual salary report mining jobs made up the top five highest paying roles based on average salary, in the country.

Taking out the number one spot, oil and gas geoscientists on average recorded a 13 per cent salary increase year-on-year, taking home an average salary of $158,671.

Following closely behind, mining managers’ average salary for 2013 was $145,401; mining geologists’ earned around $139,600 last year, while mining engineers grossed $137,800.

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