Here are some examples of frequently asked questions as to how to get started in the mining industry and what it's like working in the resources sector.
Where can I find jobs advertised in the Australian resources sector?
To contact resources sector companies directly, please visit the websites of the different resources sector industry associations:
- The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia (CME)
- The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA)
- The South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy (SACOME)
- The Queensland Resources Council (QRC)
- The New South Wales Minerals Council (NSWMC)
It is also worth considering apprenticeships, graduate programs or vacation work as alternative pathways into the industry.
Where are the jobs?
The Australian mining and energy sectors are currently experiencing shortages of skilled workers across all occupational area, including professional, paraprofessional, trades, technical and operator roles.
According to the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency, the mining and oil and gas industries will require an additional 40,000 jobs by 2018. The majority of these jobs are concentrated in the Pilbara region of Western Australia and the Darling Basin and Moranbah regions of Queensland, but there are jobs available all around Australia.
I'm new to the industry. How do I get my foot in the door?
There are a lot of misconceptions about how to start out in the resources sector and with so many jobs on offer as the industry continues to expand it would be natural to think it would be easy to find work in the resources sector. This may be so in limited cases. However, the resources sector is a highly diverse, technical and skilled industry, and as such there's no 'one size fits all' approach to finding work.
One of the biggest challenges for newcomers is finding common entry points and pathways for each role, because there are so many different recruitment approaches across sectors and across companies. Here are some of the most common ways to start out in the industry, of course depending on your skills, experience and occupational level:
Entry-level jobs - These include Trades Assistant, or support service roles such as Kitchenhands and Cleaners. Without any experience or training otherwise, it is very difficult to break into the industry. An exception to the rule can be if you live close to a mining operation (though there is no guarantee). Having experience in manual labour or heavy industrial or machinery work can be a huge advantage.
Labour hire and contractors - Many mining companies use labour hire or contracting companies to find workers for their skilled operator or trade roles. If you have the skills in these occupational areas and are new to the industry, then labour hire and contracting companies are a good place to start in order to get your foot in the door.
Apprenticeships and traineeships - The industry recruits apprentices and trainees of all ages. For information on apprenticeships please click here. Some apprenticeships and traineeships will be offered directly through a company, which may be advertised on their website, or many are offered through group training organisations. both mature age apprentices and those under 21. Some of these will be offered directly through a company, which may be advertised on their website, or many are offered through Apprenticeships Australia.
Students and graduates - The resources sector is a large provider of graduate programs and vacation work placements:
- There are hundreds of paid vacation work palcements on offer each year undertaken during the university summer holidays. These are usually advertised between July and October and can be found via our Facebook page Vacation Work with Mining and Energy Companies. Note that the interest in these placements usually exceeds the numbers available.
- Graduate programs can provide valuable opportunities for structured learning and professional development, site rotations, mentoring, peer networking e.t.c.and are advertised on an annual basis depending on operational requirements. Graduate opportunities are advertised via our Facebook page Graduate Jobs with Mining and Energy Companies.
Students and graduates are considered for positions across many engineering disciplines, science and surveying, as well as IT, human resources, health and safety, accounting, law, business and communications, and more depending on company size and requirements.
What is the difference ibn the types of jobs in the construction and operations phase?
The resources sector in Australia is currently in a state of transition as most resources sector projects move from the construction phase to the operations phase. Job opportunities in the construction phase are available during the construction of the project and can last for several years. Job opportunities during the operations phase generally require different skills set from construction, are those during the operational or production phase of a project.
The numbers of people required during the construction phase will generally be much larger than those needed during operations, and many of which are employed through a contracting or labour hire company, transitioning from project to project.
I'm 60 years old and looking to get a job in mining. Am I too old?
Provided you are over 16 years old and meet the general health, drug and alcohol-free, and physical requirements, as well as the specific skills requirements, age is not a factor in the resources sector. The average age of a mine worker is 48 years old and many new entrants to the industry are well over 50.
What employment opportunities are there for women?
Heaps!! Mining and oil and gas companies are continually looking for more ways to attract women to work in the industry. Women are highly valued members of any team across the entire industry. The principles of equal opportunity for all employees, regardless of race, sex or physical disability apply across the resources sector and companies promote a diverse working environment free from discrimination or harassment.
For more information about opportunities for women in the resources sector, see Gender Diversity.
What sorts of people are best suited to work in the resources sector?
While the specific skills needed vary from site to site, in general, resources companies look for people who:
- Have a positive approach to safety and risk management;
- Have a positive, willing attitude, ready to 'have a go';
- Are in good general physical and mental health;
- Accept and adhere to the importance of being 'fit for work', by ensuring they are not impaired by fatigue, drugs or alcohol when at work;
- Are willing to relocate or travel to remote sites; and
- Are ready to learn and develop more skills
What major resources companies operate in Australia?
Member companies of the industry peak bodies represent the majority of resources companies with operations or interests in Australia. Follow the links to further listings of resources sector companies that are members of the following peak bodies:
- Minerals Council of Australia
- Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia
- Queensland Resources Council
- NSW Minerals Council
- South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy
- Victorian Division - Minerals Council of Australia
How do I become a truck driver?
Truck driving positions on mine sites are highly sought after, as one of few entry-level positions within the resources sector. If you do not have experience driving trucks on mine sites, there are many companies or registered training organisations (RTOs) that provide training.
Undertaking training can be a large investment, so do not blindly enter into training programs before checking on actual requirements, but it makes a strong statement to a potential employer that you are serious about working in the industry.
If you know which company you want to work for, try to find out how they employ their drivers and what training and skills they require. If you have had some general industry experience, make that clear in your application so the recruiter can see that you are familiar with some of the challenges of working in the industry, such as long shifts, shift work and being in remote locations, for instance.
I'm a student. How do I get vacation work in the resources sector?
The resources sector is a large provider of vacation work placements (vac work), with hundreds of paid placements on offer each year that are undertaken over the university summer holidays. These are usually advertised between July and October and can be found via our Facebook page Vacation Work with Mining and Energy Companies.
There are placements available for students across most disciplines of engineering, geology, environmental science, surveying and spatial science, IT, human resources, accounting, health and safety, business, law and more depending on the company requirements. Again, despite the large number of places, demand usually exceeds supply - don't expect to just walk into an opportunity.
If you've got any further questions that we've not answered here, please feel free to post questions and comments on our Facebook page. Good luck!