WA mining salaries now higher than during boom

BDO Australia has reported that wages for some professions in the mining sector are rising above the levels seen in the last boom, particularly in Western Australia.

The company analysed the wages of 35,000 mineworkers and found at least a dozen jobs that were now commanding median wages higher than during the previous mining boom, which is generally considered to have lasted from around 2003 to 2013.

These jobs include positions such as senior geologists ($169,000); senior mine engineers ($186,000); maintenance superintendents ($205,000); maintenance planners ($155,000); heavy diesel fitters ($177,000); electricians ($177,000) and excavator operators ($161,000).

The most dramatic changes were among the maintenance planners and superintendents, whose median pay rose by $11,000 and $7000, respectively. The other listed positions showed growth of $1000 to $5000 each.

“We’re now in a situation where some skills are in critical short supply but workers are not returning to Western Australia because they have found jobs in the unprecedented infrastructure boom along the Eastern Seaboard, where the salaries are on par if not more,” said Allan Feinberg, BDO Australia managing director of remuneration and reward services.

“We expect this will put pressure on WA mining companies to further increase the salaries on offer in order to fill the gaps in their teams.”

Other factors cited by BDO as contributing to the short supply of skilled workers in WA’s mining industry included a desire among workers for more family friendly rosters, and changes to skilled migration visas such as the now-discontinued 457 visa.

“Mining companies in Western Australia need to start future-proofing their businesses to create a pipeline of talent so they can deliver on the opportunities in the state. But their offering must include non-financial benefits such as quality of work life and employment stability if they want to avoid an ebay-style bidding war,” Feinberg said.

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