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17 July 2019
An east coast infrastructure boom, stricter rules on foreign labour and low enrolments in university mining courses have coincided with a resurgence in mining investment, putting upward pressure on big miners to up wages.
Miners such as Fortescue Metals have responded with targeted recruitment of former defence force personnel, while engineering students like Kalgoorlie’s Georgia Kerr are being heavily pursued by employers.
Ms Kerr said several of her classmates at WA School of Mines had already signed contracts despite having 18 months of further study before graduating.
A study of remuneration paid to 35,000 mine workers by advisory firm BDO Remsmart found at least 12 mining jobs were now commanding higher wages than at the peak of the last resources boom.
These jobs include positions such as senior geologists ($169,000); senior mine engineers ($186,000); maintenance superintendents ($205,000); maintenance planners ($155,000); heavy diesel fitters ($177,000); electricians ($177,000) and excavator operators ($161,000).
The most dramatic changes were among the maintenance planners and superintendents, whose median pay rose by $11,000 and $7000, respectively. The other listed positions showed growth of $1000 to $5000 each.
While 2011 marked the peak of the last resources boom in terms of commodity prices, BDO’s managing director of remuneration and reward services Allan Feinberg said wages in many mining jobs peaked in 2014, when contracts struck at the commodity price peak came into their final year.
While BDO’s data is national, it is heavily influenced by Western Australian mine wages, which are rising amid a $10.3 billion simultaneous spend on new iron ore mines by Fortescue, BHP and Rio Tinto.