Min­ing sparks job spike

Work­ers do not need mine skills to se­cure em­ploy­ment through the min­ing sec­tor, CareerOne Edi­tor Cara Jenkin re­veals.

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EV­ERY South Aus­tralian has the op­por­tu­nity to be in­volved in em­ploy­ment as the state’s re­sources in­dus­try sparks into ac­tion. Min­ing pro­fes­sion­als are pre­dicted to only make up a slice of the re­quired work­force, with up to three-quar­ters of all work­ers ex­pected to be trained in other ca­reers in sup­port and ser­vice in­dus­tries.

Up to 25,000 work­ers in to­tal are es­ti­mated to be needed for an ex­panded Olympic Dam mine alone if the pro­ject is ap­proved for the state’s Far North. Pri­mary In­dus­tries and Re­sources SA data shows the num­ber of ma­jor ac­tive mines in South Aus­tralia has tripled in the past seven years from four to 13 and 31 more projects are un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which would re­quire thou­sands more work­ers. Min­ing pro­fes­sion­als are in high de­mand, with a Fed­eral Em­ploy­ment Depart­ment re­port find­ing min­ing en­gi­neers are ex­pected to have the strong­est em­ploy­ment growth of any oc­cu­pa­tion at 12.2 per cent each year for the next five years. But for ev­ery min­ing job cre­ated, an­other worker is re­quired for ser­vice and sup­port in­dus­tries.

These in­clude ed­u­ca­tion, com­mu­nity ser­vices, health care, hos­pi­tal­ity and re­tail. Trade work­ers, in par­tic­u­lar, are in high de­mand for more di­rect roles to min­ing to re­pair me­chan­i­cal equip­ment and help in con­struc­tion of projects.

South Aus­tralian Cham­ber of Mines and En­ergy chief ex­ec­u­tive Ja­son Kuchel says any­one pro­vid­ing a reg­u­lar ser­vice for peo­ple’s use on a reg­u­lar ba­sis will be re­quired.

‘‘I think there’s go­ing to be more and more jobs avail­able for pro­fes­sion­als and even non-pro­fes­sion­als across a whole range of ser­vice pro­vi­sion, ev­ery­thing from food through to doc­tors and nurses,’’ he says.

‘‘In West­ern Aus­tralia, they are us­ing any trade qual­i­fied peo­ple they can get hold of in the re­sources sec­tor there.’’

Work­ers from teach­ers, po­lice of­fi­cers, chefs, nurses and shop as­sis­tants to welders, diesel me­chan­ics and elec­tri­cians will be highly sought af­ter. A break­down of the Aus­tralian Bu­reau of Sta­tis­tics’ last cen­sus fig­ures re­veal about 72 per cent of min­ing work­ers are in oc­cu­pa­tions which are not in­dus­tryspe­cific, such as au­to­mo­tive trades­peo­ple, arts, health and wel­fare.

Min­ing com­pa­nies may not be the ma­jor em­ploy­ers of all the re­quired staff, as Mr Kuchel says con­trac­tors will of­fer many op­por­tu­ni­ties. ‘‘Of­ten the case is for peo­ple to ac­tu­ally con­sider the types of com­pa­nies who are pro­vid­ing these ser­vices to min­ing com­pa­nies. It’s of­ten not the peo­ple who are do­ing the min­ing them­selves who are hir­ing peo­ple, it’s the ser­vice providers,’’ he says.

Mr Kuchel says most op­por­tu­ni­ties will be cre­ated in ru­ral ar­eas be­cause that is where most mines are lo­cated.

‘‘Roxby Downs as a town­ship will in­crease sig­nif­i­cantly in size to house the ad­di­tional work­force (for Olympic Dam),’’ he says.

But many towns will ex­pe­ri­ence con­sid­er­able growth, es­pe­cially across Eyre Penin­sula and in the Far North, where ex­ten­sive ex­plo­ration is un­der­way, and to a smaller ex­tent, Yorke Penin­sula and Ade­laide Hills.

Trade work­ers also will be needed to build associated in­fra­struc­ture from elec­tric­ity sup­ply lines and power sta­tions to wa­ter pipe­lines and pro­cess­ing plants for the mines.

Jobs in the min­ing in­dus­try al­ready are top of the mind for many trade stu­dents at St Pa­trick’s Tech­ni­cal Col­lege at El­iz­a­beth West, in­clud­ing Year 11 metal and en­gi­neer­ing stu­dents Alec Mc­Ni­choll and Michael Cash. Since 2007 the school has of­fered spe­cial­ist train­ing for many trade oc­cu­pa­tions through school­based ap­pren­tice­ships to Year 11 and 12 stu­dents, with many go­ing on to full-time ap­pren­tice­ships.

Pic­ture: Bren­ton Ed­wards

St Pa­trick’s Tech­ni­cal Col­lege Year 11 stu­dents Alec Mc­Ni­choll, left, and Michael Cash.

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