Mining unemployment slides

Unemployment among minerals industry professionals has skyrocketed; new research shows figures have moved from nearly 2 per cent to more than one in ten.

A study released today by The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy shows unemployment among professionals in the Australian minerals sector, including geoscientists and engineers, has jumped from less than 2 per cent to almost 11 per cent in just 12 months.

Surveying almost 3000 AusIMM members, the results show an increase in both unemployment and under-employment in the industry.

In July 2012, only 2.9 per cent of employed minerals professionals reported that they wanted to work more hours, considering themselves ‘under-employed’. But by July 2013 many of the under-employed have now found themselves unemployed.

Among those still working, there was a three-fold increase in reported under-employment, with a 9.1 per cent rate of under-employment.

The hope of finding employment in the resources sector is also down with almost 60 per cent of those surveyed saying they expect there will be fewer professional jobs available next year.

AusIMM president Geoff Sharrock said the research confirms strong anecdotal evidence of considerable pain and disruption within the professional ranks of the minerals sector.

“Traditionally, a downturn in mining industry investment and operations impacts first on exploration geologists and then other professionals, including mining and metallurgical engineers,” Sharrock said.

“This research shows that the impacts this time have been sudden and have bitten deeply into the professional employees who are central to finding, developing and running the mining operations that underpin our economy.”

AusIMM chief executive Michael Catchpole said the increases in unemployment and under-employment are being felt right across the mining sector, affecting people working for the major mining companies as well as those involved in exploration and consultancy work.

“Many highly skilled minerals professionals are now unemployed or under-employed and we risk losing their skills,” he warned.

“This will reduce the ability of the minerals industry to innovate and improve productivity and to respond to increases in demand for our resources as economic conditions improve in our major markets.”

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