Mining workers in demand

Posted October 13, 2011, by Louisa Veidelis

With the mining and resources industries leading the charge in Australia’s economic recovery, the shortage of workers in these areas is set to worsen. If demand stays strong in this booming sector, 86 000 more new workers will be needed in the field over the next decade, according to a report by the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA).

While there are currently opportunities to work at all stages of minerals and mining, from entry-level to professorial and managerial roles, the biggest shortages by 2020 will be for tradespeople and semi-skilled operators, according to the report.

Mining in Australia

Australia’s resource-rich land means that we extract and process large quantities of iron ore, nickel, bauxite, copper, gold, silver, uranium, diamonds, opal, zinc and coal. The minerals industry makes up 8.9 per cent of Australia's GDP and 50 per cent of Australia's total exports.

Iron ore and coal are forecast to be areas with significant shortages.

Jobs in mining

There is a wide range of jobs in mining to suit all levels of skill, education and experience.

Semi-skilled jobs (e.g. driller’s assistant, trainee operator, labourer) require a good work ethic and sometimes an entry-level TAFE qualification.

Skilled jobs (e.g. mobile plant operator/driver, underground or opencut miner, driller) require a TAFE-recognised skill set or qualification.

Trades (e.g. electrician, mechanic, maintenance, welder) require a VET/TAFE qualification or apprenticeship.

Technical/supervisor jobs (e.g. mine planner, safety and health officer, geoscience technician, environmental officer) require a qualification from TAFE or university and some on-the-job training.

Professional/managerial jobs (e.g. various branches of engineering, environmental scientists, geoscientists) require a university degree and depending on the role, extensive experience in the industry.

Where the jobs are

There is mining activity in all states and territories but most current job opportunities are in Western Australia and Queensland. According to the report by the Minerals Council of Australia, almost 60 per cent of new workers by 2020 will be needed in Western Australia.

Working conditions

Many miners work rosters of two weeks on, two weeks off, flying to and from the mine site each fortnight.

Mining and resources workers are well paid. Average pay in this industry has risen 60 per cent since 2004 and is higher than the average pay in financial services.

Women in mining

There are ample opportunities for women to work in mining and resources. Women make up around 10 per cent of the mining workforce in Australia and are recognised by employers as an untapped resource.

The working and leadership style of women is in valued on worksites in this industry. Interestingly, female machine operators are said to have lower injury rates and be more steady, causing less wear and tear on the machines.

Mining companies are trying to attract more women and many have redressed pay inequalities and introduced more family-friendly policies.

How to get started

Mining and resources employers look for workers who have a good work ethic and sometimes a TAFE or university qualification.

If you’re interested in working in a skilled or operator job, or a trade, you may need a TAFE Certificate III or higher, a heavy vehicle licence and Mining and Resource Contractors Safety Training Association (MARCSTA) accreditation. It would also be an advantage to have a recent first aid certificate and a medical examination before applying.

If you’re at university you might consider ‘vac work’ or vacation work. This involves paid short-term employment on work sites and the opportunity to network with employers.

Make sure your resume is well written and formatted, and includes your skills, qualifications and relevant experience. Your cover letter (written specifically for each job you apply for) should give specific examples that demonstrate your skills and abilities. Both documents should be proofed by a friend before you start applying for jobs.

You can see a sample dump truck driver resume and cover letter on our site.

Finally, apply for jobs, apprenticeships and traineeships online – you can find employment opportunities on job boards like or on the websites of mining or contractor companies.

Louisa Veidelis

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