The mining sector requires engineers from a diverse range of disciplines including chemical and materials, construction, electrical, mining, industrial, and mechanical and production engineering. Other specialist mining industry roles include mud engineers and drilling fluid engineers.
The mining industry requires a varied range of maintenance workers including those who can fill mining jobs related to trades such as electrical, mechanical, fixed and mobile plant maintenance, metal machining and welding. Mining jobs are also available for people with general labouring skills.
PROSPECTS MAINTENANCE JOBS IN THE MINES:
The outlook for engineering and maintenance mining jobs is mixed. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported 173,388 jobs across the mining sector as a whole for 2014 -2015. Overall, employment in the mining industry has experienced a contraction in demand over the last few years. There is strong competition for most engineering and maintenance jobs and this is likely to be an ongoing trend. The Department of Employment in its Mining Industry Outlook Report of 2014 forecast further decreases within the industry up to 2018. However, new projects such as the recently approved Adani mine in Queensland will result in a stronger demand for engineering and maintenance mining jobs in the future.
Within the mining sector, demand for most engineering jobs and maintenance jobs has declined in comparison to the mining boom years. However, the mining industry still provides a large number of jobs in the regional areas of Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales in particular and perseverance along with the right qualifications is the key to landing a mining job.
EMPLOYMENT PROJECTIONS FOR ENGINEERING JOBS IN THE MINES:
Projections from the Australian Department of Employment, 2015 to 2020. Note data is '000.
There are many roles involved in the category of engineering and maintenance jobs in mining.
Engineering Roles: Chemical and Materials Engineers, Industrial, Mechanical and Production Engineers, Mining Engineers
Maintenance Roles: Crane Operators, Electricians, Metal Fitters and Machinists, Construction and Mining Labourers, Metal Fabricators, Welding Trades Workers
Chemical and Materials Engineer: This is a complex, technical role that includes designing chemical processing systems and related control systems. The role may also include monitoring the operation of equipment, diagnosing malfunctions in chemical plants, overseeing the running of laboratories to develop new materials and evaluating the suitability of materials for specific mining products.
Industrial, Mechanical and Plant/Production Engineer: These mining related roles are responsible for design and oversight of construction, operation and maintenance of mechanical and process plants. They are also involved in the design of equipment, machines and parts and may be responsible for oversight of the manufacturing process.
Mining Engineers: These job roles are active in conducting exploratory surveys and the mining process for mineral, petroleum and natural gas deposits. Working alongside companies and other earth scientists, mining engineers assist with determining how viable it is to extract the natural resources along with the best method of removal. Mining engineers also design and plan the location of mining shafts, tunnels and chambers.
Crane Operators: In this mining job, Crane Operators control fixed and moveable cranes, hoists and winches to move material and equipment around in mines and on mining sites.
Electricians: Electricians install, test, maintain and repair electrical wiring, circuit boards, and electronic equipment. Maintenance tasks include using instruments to test for wiring faults, repairing and replacing worn or faulty wiring, and repositioning electrical outlets and switchboards.
Metal Fitters and Machinists: Metal fitters and machinists construct equipment and machinery by putting together various metal parts and other material components. They operate specialised precision machines and tools to cut and shape metal parts and then repair and maintain the equipment over its lifetime. Maintenance tasks include detecting faults and regular overhaul and repair of mechanical parts and equipment.
Structural Steel and Welding Jobs: Structural steel and welding trade workers create, maintain and repair metal parts of iron and steel objects such as boilers, pressure pipes and other types of industrial machinery. Metal is cut using hand tools such as flame cutting torches or by using metal cutting machines. Heating and hammering techniques are used to shape and weld the metal sections and other tools are then used to finish the products including using filing, grinding and polishing techniques.
PAY FOR MINING JOBS IN ENGINEERING AND MAINTEANCE:
As there are many roles that fall under the category of engineering and maintenance jobs in the mines, there is not a single average wage that can be applied. Overall, the mining industry delivers above the average wage and this also applies to most engineering and maintenance jobs. The Department of Employment’s Mining Industry Outlook Report of 2014 provided a breakdown of median weekly earnings across mining industry sectors. The lowest paid sector (construction material mining) averages $78,000 per worker per annum and the highest paid sector (oil and gas extraction) averages $130,000.
Average salaries for engineers range from $94,536 for industrial, mechanical and plant/production engineers up to $137,436 for mining engineers, according to ABS Data from the ABS Characteristics of Employment Survey August 2014.
Within maintenance job roles, average salaries start at $62,400 for structural steel and welding trade workers up to $110, 708 for crane operators. A premium on these pay rates depends upon location and scarcity of workers..
QUALIFICATIONS FOR ENGINEERS AND MAINTENANCE WORKERS IN THE MINES:
In the mining industry, employers require engineering applicants to have a relevant Bachelor degree, preferably a Bachelor of Engineering or Bachelor of Science with a major in Mining Engineering. Associate Degrees and postgraduate studies are also available. The organisation Engineers Australia, provides ongoing professional development courses and information for engineers.
Maintenance workers are required to have industry recognised certifications for their specific trade. This is usually a Certificate III or IV qualification for electricians, metal fitters and machinists, or structural steel and welding workers. Maintenance workers providing labour rather than trade skills may not be required to have formal certifications.
Mining jobs in engineering and maintenance have two distinct training streams – university degree level and certificate level. The Workpac Group recommends using Gold Training accredited courses for mining maintenance. If the required course is not listed on Gold Training, further information is available from the Department of Education and Training where details on national training and certification requirements along with a register of training providers is provided.
Information on university level training is available from individual universities, and further useful information can be found at the Australian Education Network website.