• Mining companies are offering high wages and training for entry level jobs
  • Perks to secure staff include sign on bonuses, retention bonuses and ‘crazy good swings’
  • There could be as many as 100,000 new roles in the next 5-7 years

Mining companies are scrambling for staff off the back of COVID lockdowns, border closures and a ramp up in activities in the sector.

According to the Australian Resources and Energy Employer Association (AREEA) the biggest issue at present is the current and emerging skills shortages in the sector.

“This is expected to worsen with investment in new and expansion projects potentially creating 100,000 new roles over the next five-to-seven years,” chief executive Steve Knott says.

RecruitWest MD Brad Pense says because of the expansion of mining – especially in WA – more and more staff are going to be required.

“We’ve been encouraging our clients over the last 18 months to go down that training path, to look at attitude over aptitude, and employ on people’s qualities and values,” he said.

So, if you’ve ever thought about getting into the sector, now is definitely the time, especially with companies offering entry level roles requiring little to no experience for insane wages.

How does $100K+ sound?


Here’s an example of some high paying entry level roles. Note entry level:


$100K off the bat and ‘crazy good’ swings

“We’re seeing entry level roles paying circa $100,000-$110,000 plus super for someone who has absolutely no experience other than at least six months heavy lifting,” Itch Recruitment MD Jodie Perram says.

“Clients are offering to pay for licences and medicals, which prior to six months ago would have been a barrier to entry to a lot of these guys due to how expensive it can be.”

She also said that clients are offering “crazy good swings”.

“Previously, you’d be four weeks on two weeks off, but at the moment we’re looking at two weeks on one week off,” she said.

“For experienced drillers they’re even doing one and one, which is just unheard of.”

Not to mention companies are upgrading from swags and tents to airconditioned units with showers, toilets, laundries and kitchens to make sure staff on site are comfortable.

“As it’s becoming more competitive, companies are really putting time and effort into making sure that people are physically safe and well looked after,” Perram said.


Here’s some circa $100K jobs requiring a bit of experience:


Companies offering more perks and bonuses

If you have some solid mine site experience, you have the pick of the bunch when it comes to jobs.

Companies are offering sign on bonuses, retention bonuses, your choice of rosters – you name it – all to secure staff in what’s become a super competitive environment.

Pense said he’s heard about potential employees being offered sign on bonuses, a variety of different rosters and more flexibility around time on site as well as training opportunities.

“People want to be looked after, not treated like a number and feel they’re being valued at work,” he said.

“These are the sort of things that we’re seeing attract people to smaller mining companies or mid-tier mining companies, where they’re not just treated like a piece of paper.”


So, what’s the catch?

When asked if the high wages we’re seeing are sustainable, Pense says only if the iron ore prices and base metal prices stay where they are – and that’s a big unknown.

And Perram thinks they’ll become a problem as people move from casual roles to permanent ones, because those casual rates are higher.

“I just can’t see it being sustainable because drilling companies have set production targets and if they don’t have the people, they’re not going to reach those project milestones,” she said.

“And when they’re paying higher wages, then you’re going to find that their profits are going to go into decline.”

Then there’s the turnover rate, which can be as high as 75%.

Pense says it comes down to not everyone being suited for a job on the mines, which can be quite an isolating experience.

“It takes a certain person to be able to live and work on a mine site – and it’s not for everybody,” he said.

“We want to make sure the candidate’s attitude is right, that they’re not overcommitted in terms of their financial position and that they’re not being torn away from family because that’s not sustainable.”