Mining People Matters

Steve Heather

Steve Heather, Managing Director and Co-founder of Mining People International (MPi).

Poll results: Mining job and salary prospects for 2020 revealed

The mining industry is walking a tightrope on salary expectations in 2020.

Mining industry employees and jobseekers are going into 2020 feeling much more positive about both the industry and their job prospects in it – but not about salaries.

Mining industry employees and jobseekers are going into 2020 feeling much more positive about both the industry and their job prospects in it.

That’s according to new data gathered from an online poll in December by the Mining People Polling/Media Centre.

We asked: What do you think the outlook for the mining industry generally is in 2020, compared to 2019? Respondents were asked to rate the outlook for job prospects and mining salaries as either; much better, much worse, or about the same.

Even in the relatively quiet month of December we received in excess of 200 respondents. A high-level review of the results revealed the following:


The industry generally:

Much better                41%

About the same          45%

Much worse                14%


Your job prospects:

Much better                46%

About the same          37%

Much worse                17%


Mining Salaries:

Much better                23%

About the same          58%

Much worse                19%


So, while 46% thought their job prospects in 2020 were better than 2019, there’s much less expectation (23%) that salaries will rise. Nearly 58% of respondents thought salaries would remain about the same level and 19% thought they’d get worse.

This perhaps suggests the industry has managed to keep a lid on the kind of salary hyperinflation we saw during the last boom.

At least so far.


Let’s take a deeper dive into the data

We also asked each voter to tell us whether they were a:

  • Supervisor/manager or non-supervisor/manager and
  • Whether they were currently employed or not.

When you dig a little deeper into the data, you can really see the difference between those whose cups are half-empty and those whose cups are half-full.

In short, your job type makes a big difference.

Of the employed Supervisors/Managers, only 8.7% felt their salary prospects were much worse compared to 32.2% of the general workforce suggesting there is a much more negativity in the blue-collar ranks.

What about the unemployed compared to the employed?

The currently employed were much more likely, i.e. 22.2% negative or ambivalent, compared with only 7.7% of those currently employed.

Clearly the positive stories about mining are creating higher levels of optimism in people not currently working in mining, than those employed in the sector.


Mining salaries not expected to move very much in 2020, but there is optimism. Is there some balance?

A whopping 48% of people currently employed, believe their job prospects are much better in 2020 whereas only 19.8% of those employed, converted their general optimism towards the industry, to optimism about their salary prospects.


It’s a tightrope act and everyone is watching

While we don’t have a crystal ball and can’t know for sure what 2020 will bring the industry, at the moment the signs are pretty good.

More projects are in development and more are coming online. There’s strong demand for employees across many disciplines – indeed, some are in very short supply and qualified candidates are being snapped up quickly.

It’s no surprise those who have a positive view of the mining industry’s year ahead also have a positive outlook for job prospects. It’s also very reassuring that there’s realistic sentiment about salary increases.

Mining’s recovery has been slow, as those of us who have endured and survived the downturn can attest. What we don’t want is the hyper inflated salary expectations we saw during the last boom. That won’t help mining’s growth and sustainability in the long-term.

At the risk of mixing my metaphors, the industry is walking a tightrope at the moment and we seem to be doing a good job of it – talking up the industry (and careers in the industry) while not talking up salary expectations.

It would seem there is a much greater emphasis on providing higher levels of work life balance and family friendly rosters. As any mining executive will remind us, obviously this also comes at a cost. But I trust it is a more sustainable way of making mining more attractive.

Here’s hoping at least.  


Do your own research to gain a competitive advantage

You can use the Mining People Polling/Media Centre to commission your own targeted research, with results provided exclusively to you. Please contact us if you’d like to know more.


Steve Heather signature
Steve Heather – BAppSc (Mining Engineering) WASM, FRCSA

Managing Director & Principal Executive Search - Mining People International (MPi)

Fellow/National Board Member – Recruitment, Consulting & Staffing Association Aust. & N.Z. (RCSA)