Min­ing a ma­jor player for our fu­ture growth

A boom­ing min­ing in­dus­try of­fers op­por­tu­ni­ties in a large range of fields, writes Thomas Conlin.

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SOUTH Aus­tralia is tipped to be­come a ma­jor player in the global re­sources land­scape, with the in­dus­try op­ti­mistic of huge em­ploy­ment growth in the near fu­ture.

A re­cent ex­plo­ration boom is be­hind the op­ti­mism for thou­sands of jobs to be im­mi­nent – and not just for work­ers with univer­sity de­grees.

The in­dus­try of­fers a di­verse range of em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing an in­creased de­mand for trades.

Con­tract min­ing and civil con­struc­tion com­pany Lu­cas Earth­movers chief ex­ec­u­tive Ben Lu­cas says that while the com­pany has re­cruited great new peo­ple from the state’s uni­ver­si­ties, the in­dus­try has op­por­tu­ni­ties for other qual­i­fied work­ers.

‘‘We are find­ing that there is a real need for peo­ple from trades, es­pe­cially in ar­eas such as diesel fit­ters and me­chan­ics,’’ he says.

‘‘The ex­cit­ing thing is that you don’t just have to be an en­gi­neer or an op­er­a­tor of plant equip­ment to be in­volved in the min­ing in­dus­try. Many other trades are re­quired on these lo­ca­tions as well.’’

The in­dus­try of­fers the op­por­tu­nity to work on both civil and con­tract projects, Mr Lu­cas says.

While SA is now the low­est min­ing em­ployer among main­land states, a re­cent re­port by Deloitte Ac­cess Eco­nom­ics says the state is a ‘‘world-class min­er­als prov­ince, with al­most 40 per cent of the globe’s known re­cov­er­able ura­nium re­serves as well as sig­nif­i­cant vol­umes of cop­per, gold and sil­ver.’’

The num­ber of peo­ple em­ployed in min­ing in SA has fallen be­low 8000, from a peak of more than 12,000 in 2007, as a re­sult of re­duced pro­duc­tion caused by the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

But sen­ti­ment has been spurred by a re­cent in­crease in in­vest­ment within the state.

Fig­ures re­leased by the Aus­tralian Bu­reau of Sta­tis­tics in April show that in­vest­ment in min­ing in SA rose by 7.6 per cent to nearly $1.5 bil­lion in the last quar­ter of 2010, com­pared with a 3.5 per cent rise na­tion­ally.

Lu­cas Earth­movers sur­veyor Sam Baum with a GPS Rover, used for mark­ing out drill pat­terns in prepa­ra­tion for blast­ing.

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