Thursday 17th Oct, 2019

21,000 new mining workers needed by 2024

Around 21,000 new employees will be needed in the mining industry by 2024, according to a new workforce forecasting report.

The Australian Resources and Energy Group (AMMA) used a number of modelling techniques to determine the labour demand required for new mining projects scheduled for completion over the next four years.

The forecast found 57 projects worth $41 billion that are either committed or considered likely by the Australian Government’s Department of Industry will demand 20,767 on-site operating employees by 2024.

This includes 8,660 mining plant operators, 2,847 heavy diesel fitters, 970 other trades, such as electrical, mechanical and maintenance, 4,110 supervisors, management and administration, and 4,180 engineers, technicians, geologists and related roles.

AMMA Chief Executive, Steve Knott, said understanding future workforce demand was critical to assisting industry with workforce planning strategies, and to assist governments in directing skills and labour mobility initiatives.

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“Australia’s mining industry is facing new workforce demand at levels not seen since the previous investment and construction ‘boom’,” he said.

“While demand across the next four years will be far steadier than the unprecedented growth we saw in 2005-2012, it is clear that securing the pipeline of skills to support mining project growth to 2024 will be a significant challenge.

“We must avoid a scenario where nationally significant mining projects are delayed by skills shortages, or competing for engineers, trades and skilled operators with the $100 billion worth of public infrastructure projects reportedly in Australia’s pipeline.”

Western Australia is forecast to have the greatest new mining workforce demand, with 30 projects requiring 10,679 operational employees by 2024. Iron ore is around 29 per cent of this growth, with lithium, gold, and copper also represented.

Queensland will require around 5714 new mining employees, driven by a number of large coal projects coming online within the next four years, according to the report.

Knott said the AMMA was determined for the forecast to be conservative.

“We have put forward the minimum likely number of new on-site workers our industry will demand over the next four years, based on projects already committed or very advanced in feasibility studies,” he said.

“This conservative approach also factors in automation, remote operating centres, closure of ageing mining projects and other factors that could impact workforce availability in the near future.

“Should a number of projects considered ‘possible’ in the mining project pipeline become committed, AMMA’s forecasted new workforce demand of 21,000 by 2024 could be exceeded very significantly.”