Miners seek record numbers of new workers

Global mining giant BHP Billiton, oil and gas producer Santos and Nyrstar Australia’s Port Pirie smelter are among a swathe of mining and energy companies driving the sector’s highest second-quarter jobs demand on record.


Feb 06, 2023, updated Feb 06, 2023
The Olympic Dam mine in SA's Far North. Photo: supplied.

The Olympic Dam mine in SA's Far North. Photo: supplied.

There was a five per cent increase in job advertisements compared to October to December the year before as companies scouted for fresh talent in the industry, according to latest figures released by the Resources and Engineering Skills Alliance (RESA).

Higher demand for staff kicked in as companies continued work on major projects including BHP’s Smelter Campaign Maintenance project and Nyrstar Port Pirie starting its $45 million capital works upgrade and maintenance projects.

Nystar’s smelter has been operating for more than 130 years and already employs more than 800 people and 300 contractors, it is among the world’s largest multi-metal smelters producing lead, silver and by-products like sulphuric acid.

Its lead smelter was closed for a period from December last year as work was undertaken to improve emissions and operational performance.

Increasing demand for new labour from the state’s leading mining companies will be further boosted by the state’s Hydrogen Jobs Plan for the Upper Spencer Gulf, according to Energy and Mining Minister Tom Koutsantonis.

There is already scoping work underway around the development of major hydrogen projects in the Upper Spencer Gulf – along with other energy and transmission line projects, mining and exploration projects and the large scheduled maintenance projects.

“RESA’s latest report continues to highlight the strong activity in South Australia’s mining sector, especially in the critical areas of copper, steel and hydrogen development, as companies anticipate the substantial influence the Hydrogen Jobs Plan will have on the market,” Koutsantonis said.

International specialist underground mining contractor Byrnecut Australia is another company boosting advertisements to 907 during the quarter, with around 210 companies seeking new staff in South Australia.

There also has been demand to support more activity around SIMEC Mining’s magnetite expansion project and OZ Mineral’s Wirra Shaft project at Prominent Hill.

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Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula locations comprised around 10 per cent of demand while Coober Pedy and Outback South Australia made up almost 20 per cent with the remainder largely based in metropolitan Adelaide.

Continuing the trend from last quarter, more than half of the vacancies advertised related to trades and operators (53 per cent), followed by professional services with 32 per cent, while calls for supervisors and managers dipped slightly to around seven per cent.

Demand for trades and operators included heavy diesel fitters/mechanical fitters, mobile plant operators, boilermaker/welders, drill fitters, auto electricians, drillers, and driller’s assistants – demonstrating the strong continued need for technical, hands-on operators.

RESA was established in 2007 to support the skills development, workforce and organisation capabilities needed by the mineral resources and heavy engineering sectors.

It was recently awarded another $1.2 million over the next four years in State Government funding.

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