Australian Mining Projects Overview 2011

mining jobs australiaWith 61,500 new operational jobs expected in the mining sector alone by 2015, as well as tens of thousands more in the construction stages (according to estimates released in the National Resources Sector Employment Taskforce report in July 2010), the industry is facing a skills shortage that far exceeds that experienced in the five years preceding 2008.

There are currently 75 advanced projects listed by the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resources Economics (ABARE).  Of the 75, 67 are already under construction (with 30 of these still underway in 2011 and 2012) and eight are still to start, but will do so within the next three years.  41 projects are in the energy sector (predominantly coal seam gas/liquefied natural gas), 28 are in mining (predominantly coal and iron ore) and six in mineral processing.

The 286 less advanced projects identified by ABARE cite an operational commencement date, but not a construction start date – but most are slated to commence production in the period 2012 to 2020.

Currently there are only a few projects underway in states like New South Wales, Northern Territory and South Australia, but this looks to dramatically change going forward.  The locations where some projects are currently drawing labour from – or anticipate drawing labour from – may change once increased opportunities present in home locations for employees and candidates.

National Resource Skills Taskforce analysis of 2010 shows: 

  • Construction jobs on new projects could peak at 45,000 in 2012 and 2013, with strong jobs growth for technicians and tradespeople, and machinery operators and drivers.
  • Employment growth in mining operations is expected to be 4.9 per cent per annum over the next five years, creating around 61,500 new jobs by 2015 due to increased production, driven by demand from Asia.  There will be strong demand for professionals in addition to the skills in point one.
  • In addition, further vacancies will occur in mining and gas operations as around 10 per cent of employees leave the sector each year through retirement or transition to other sectors.  Replacement demand in mining operations could be around 16,000 persons per annum, including approximately 3,000 retirements.

The report cites emerging shortages at present—mainly engineers and other professional staff with more than five years experience.

At the time of release, the report claimed there was a significant number of unemployed tradespeople.  However, the Taskforce expects labour market tightening will result in skills shortages by late 2011 to early 2012, particularly in Western Australia and some regions of Queensland. As a result, the resources sector could be 36,000 tradespeople short by 2015.

Each year, we provide an update on major mining, oil and gas projects which are already under construction, or are considered to have a strong likelihood of being approved.  The list is nowhere near exhaustive, but does provide those working in the industry, or considering working in the industry, with an insight into career opportunities – where they are located and timeframes.

What is interesting to note since our update in 2010, is the number of projects that have not met their original cited construction commencement timeframes.  In some cases, projects have been delayed by 12 to 24 months.  Recently Woodside attracted criticism for the delay on its Pluto Project in the north west of Western Australia, but the number of projects identified as part of our review that have fallen well short of their original specified dates, seem to indicate this is a consistent theme.

Disappointingly, six projects The Resource Channel identified as ‘major’ in our last review are not included in this review simply because of the lack of recent information available to the public and in particular the job market.  If we can level criticism at the industry, it is entirely in this space – how can we lament the looming skills shortage when we make it so difficult of those working in the industry or those looking to enter to source the information they need?

Unless otherwise stated, all dollar figures in the blogs are in Australian dollars.  All information has been attained and extensively researched from current public sources and is true and correct to our best knowledge at this time

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