The Resources sector is a cornerstone of the Australian economy.
Resources and energy exports were valued at $164 billion, accounting for 70% of Australia’s goods exports (2018).
The sector employed over 250,000 people in February 2019, which accounts for 2% of the total workforce.
The sector paid $12.1 billion in company tax and around $11.2 billion in royalties and other taxes to state and territory governments (2016-17).
Australia attracted investment of almost $315.3 billion to its mining industry in 2017.
The sector paid $26 billion dollars in wages and salaries (2014-15).
In 2017-18 Australia’s top five goods and services exports, in order, were:
Recently Deloitte Access Economics identified mining and METS as key drivers of Australia’s economic growth over the next 20 years.
Drivers for Future Resource Needs
Mineral products are essential to many of the things we take for granted in the modern world around us. Transport, telecommunications, energy, health services, construction and infrastructure, building, manufacturing, data and information technology equipment and services, food production and everything that flows on from it depend on the availability of mining products.
As our society advances and innovation continues to identify better use of technology and cater to the needs of growing populations and developing nations, the demand for minerals grows.
In addition to the incremental growth in demand to meet basic needs, some of the key drivers for future resources needs will come anything that supports:
Greener power generation
Aging populations and health services
Personal gadgets and technology
Construction and infrastructure
According to a World Bank report, the rise of green energy technologies required for a low-carbon future is expected to lead to significant growth in demand for a wide range of minerals and metals, such as aluminum, copper, lead, lithium, manganese, nickel, silver, steel, and zinc and rare earth minerals.
Modern Mining Values and Social Responsibility
The culture and values of Australian mining have pushed the industry beyond focussing on the economic priorities of maximising saleable product to market. Although this continues to be the economic imperative, the way in which companies go about achieving it has shifted to prioritise:
Communities and Stakeholders and
Mining operators invest in developing and implementing better systems, processes and equipment to improve safety and minimise the environmental impact of their operations.
Companies work closely with the communities in which they operate to develop and deliver programs that will benefit local communities and other stakeholders.
Mining operators are committed to maintaining their social licence to operate by developing a proactive relationship based on trust and integrity, to ensure community support throughout the mine life cycle.
In March 2019, there were 363 operating mines throughout Australia.
The Australian Mine Atlas provides up to date details of all mining activity.
Although mines are usually located in regional and remote areas, RESA’s job data analysis indicates that the locations for employment opportunities are often in metropolitan areas. This is particularly the case for roles that are not directly related to operations, construction and maintenance. Although the ratios for job locations vary depending on the labour demands of the particular stage of the mine life cycle, the location of job roles is often 40-60% in metropolitan areas.
Technological advances in automated operations, big data and remote technologies are creating more opportunities for operations to be carried out from centralised, metropolitan control rooms rather than at remote sites.
When considering employment in the resources sector it is important to note that over 90% of job advertisements in the sector are not for positions with the mine operator. The jobs are often with labour hire companies, contractors and specialist suppliers.
Mine Life Cycle and Opportunities
In order to understand the opportunities to participate in the resources sector it is useful to have an understanding of the mine life cycle. There are a number of ways to look at this – here is one for your reference.
Every mine has a life span which with stages from exploration to closure. The stage of the lifespan will determine what activities are undertaken and the job opportunities that may be available.
Understanding the mine life cycle can help you to identify where your expertise will best fit.
Mining doesn’t happen in cities, so the main challenge for some choosing a career in mining is working in remote locations. There are great financial rewards in this industry but it’s best to go into it with your eyes open.
Fly in Fly Out
Fly In Fly Out (FIFO) is a relatively new way of achieving a work-life balance, especially for workers with families who live in urban and rural areas. Under a FIFO arrangement an employee will fly to a work site for the duration of their roster then return to their nearest capital city or regional centre for their time-off shift.
There are many challenges which workers need to be aware of before committing to FIFO. These include missing out on family occasions and social time with friends due to roster commitments and constantly adapting between tiring 12 hour shifts and “normal” family life. Some workers find that FIFO can place a strain on family relationships and there are certainly more emotional highs and lows than other workers might have in a routine “9 to 5” existence.
On the other hand, most FIFO workers view their life pragmatically, understanding that the arrangement allows them and their families to live anywhere in Australia, earn an above average income, provide good educational opportunities for their children and expand their careers at a faster rate than working in a “normal” job.
Many also appreciate the longer periods at home, enabling them to spend more quality time with their families.
For more information about FIFO, or if you are a partner of someone who works in a FIFO arrangement, check out the following sites:
Drive In Drive Out
Drive in Drive Out (DIDO) is not unlike a normal commuter job, where you either catch a bus or drive yourself into a mine site and drive home at the end of your roster. Due to the distance from home some miners drive in, but stay in shared accommodation in a mine site village for the duration of their roster.
Alternatively, they may live in a nearby town and return home at the end of each shift. However, most companies don’t like their staff commuting much more than an hour to work – after a 12 hours shift they want to see you get home safely.
The job roster controls your life on site and can depend on many different factors, such as which company you are working for, the type of job, the availability of labour and the remoteness of the site.
2 weeks on/1 week off
2 weeks on/2 weeks off
9 days on/5 days off.
When on site, mine workers can expect to work each day for long shifts of around 12 hours.
Mining companies strive to make living in a mining village as enticing and as comfortable as possible.
Accommodation ranges from single rooms with en suites to hotel or lodge style facilities with comfortable beds, televisions and phone and internet connections.
Recreational facilities can include gymnasiums, tennis courts and swimming pools and there is usually a wet mess (bar) attached to dining areas.
Safety is very important to mining companies and 24 hour medical facilities are available to workers.