Western Australia has been named the world’s top destination for mining investment, but is it also the top destination for mining jobs?
Is Western Australia a top destination for mining jobs in 2020?
Recently the state regained the top spot for mining investment in the Fraser Institute’s annual global Survey of Mining Companies.
That survey takes responses from some 2,400 industry figures around the world and produces a rank of mining destinations based on factors like public policy (taxation, regulation), mineral endowments, and more.
In that survey, WA received a score of 92.45, pipping Finland at the post (on 92) and the US state of Nevada on 87.5. WA last topped the rankings in 2015.
But would WA rate differently if the survey was based on mining job opportunities instead?
East coast mining job candidates not heading west
According to Mining People’s General Manager of Workforce Operations and Career Services, Shane Moore, when it comes to blue-collar jobs, WA is not as attractive as it was a decade ago.
“A driving factor for this is that most states with resources projects are pretty buoyant in terms of mining vacancies,” he said.
“A decade or more ago we witnessed large numbers of east coast-based people either relocating to WA or working FIFO to WA at their own expense. This was primarily caused by the coal industry bottoming out.
“These days, though, the east coast coal industry is fairly robust and therefore offers a lot of opportunity for the workforce to remain fully employed in those states.”
Moore said consequently there were very few east coast mining operators chasing work in WA – although mining trade-related roles, where higher rates of pay are on offer, were one exception.
Much of the industry expansion in WA in recent years has been in optimising existing assets and in mining assets in close proximity to existing operations.
Professional and technical candidate availability expected to tighten
Mining People General Manager of Professional Technical, Tony Turton, said that meant the available talent for the more junior levels of professional and technical roles had become stretched in WA.
“We are starting to see demand outstrip supply – particularly with regards to underground metalliferous mines,” he said.
“Without the addition of whole new mining and processing operations, there hasn’t been a large requirement for department heads, General Managers, etc., and so there are still a number of very good senior people available.”
POLL RESULTS: What the mining industry thinks about labour hire
However, Turton said the state’s current project pipeline meant it is anticipated the availability of a whole spectrum of professional and technical people will “tighten considerably” throughout 2020 and into 2021.
Strengths of WA’s mining industry recognised in survey
Turton said he believed the Fraser Institute survey had recognised a couple of strengths in the WA mining industry.
Firstly, investor confidence had returned in the two or so years since the WA Government had backflipped on plans to increase the gold royalty rate and appears to have “learnt its lesson”.
Secondly, he said good progress had recently been made in reducing red and green tape from the industry.
“This means the time frame to get projects from exploration through to operations is progressively becoming shorter,” Turton said. “This has a significant impact in reducing the costs and time to bring a project online and, therefore, companies are finding WA to be a better place to invest.”