Mining boom sparks bidding war for workers in WA, the state’s latest billion-dollar mining project begins construction, and fears of a derailment of the Perth Metronet project due to a national shortage of skilled rail workers emerge; all in our monthly news brief.
Mining-boom fuelled bidding war for workers in WA
At the height of WA’s mining boom, workers flew in from far and wide to earn the big money coming from the state’s burgeoning resources industry. At that time mining companies were offering ridiculous conditions and wages to attract workers. At the end of the boom, the workers who had been attracted by the mining fortunes had to move on when jobs became scarce.
Five years later, the mining game seems to be ramping up again with iron and lithium leading the charge. This has led to increased demand for workers in the industry which has seen the beginning of a bidding war for certain skillsets and occupations.
Currently, Fortescue, Rio Tinto and BHP (just to name a few) are all in the process of constructing new mines. Combined, all these new mining projects will need about 6,000 construction workers.
While the current investments don’t match those experienced at the height of the boom, the almost simultaneous commencement of all projects will put a strain on labour supply which tends to create a bidding war for workers.
WA’s latest Multi-billion-dollar mining project breaks ground
Construction work at WA’s latest multi-billion-dollar mining project has officially commenced in Pilbara. BHP’s South Flank mine is expected to create about 2,500 jobs in the three years it will be in construction and 600 permanent jobs once operations begin.
South Flank is set to become BHP’s most productive mine when it goes online in 2021, producing about 80 million tonnes of iron ore per year. It will also feature BHP’s longest overland conveyor to date with a length of 23 kilometres.
According to the mining giant, 85% of the construction contracts for the project will be awarded within Australia with a high likelihood of 90% of these contracts going to businesses based in WA.
A Rail-worker shortage could derail the Metronet Project
The first stage of the Metronet Project – which will cost about $4.75 billion in works – is underway and will include nearly 72 km of new rail. As the project continues to gain momentum, however, fears are starting to emerge on whether there will be adequate workers with the right skills to undertake the mammoth project.
Currently, there are 10 major railway projects, either under construction or proposed, with a value of at least $1 billion nationwide. Each of these new and upcoming projects will pose competition for Metronet, which is expected to require more than 3,000 workers at its peak.
Figures based on job advertisements in WA show that there has been a significant increase in demand for rail workers in the last two years. Rail jobs have, in fact, jumped by a whopping 43% in just the last 12 months to June, a clear sign of a pending shortage for skilled rail workers.