What is the value of Australia's Resource Industry?+

According to the Australian Government’s Office of the Chief Economist, the Australian resource industry:

  • had 182 potential new major resource projects worth  up to a collective $239+ billion (publicly announced or at the feasibility stage) as of October 2015;
  • had 35 new major resource projects at an advanced stage (either committed or under construction), representing a capital expenditure of $221 billion as of October 2015;
  • attracted $5.4 billion in total exploration expenditure across minerals and petroleum in 2014-15;
  • is expected to generate export earnings of $166 billion in 2015-16; and
  • is expected to increase Australia’s earnings from commodities by an average annual rate of 6% a year from 2014-15 to total $240 billion in 2019-20.

What makes up the Australian Resource Industry's workforce?+

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (August 2016):

  • 222,300 people are directly employed in mining, oil and gas operations across the country (in original terms).
  • More resource employees are located in Western Australia and Queensland than any other state, with 44.1% and 27.5% respectively.
  • Only 12% of the resource workforce holds union membership.

A February 2013 Royal Bank of Australia research paper illustrated the full breadth of the resource industry’s contribution to Australia’s economic and employment wellbeing. Key findings include:

  • Around 1.1 million Australians are employed (directly and indirectly) due to resources activity: the resource economy accounted for 9.75% of total employment in 2012 through flow-on job creation in servicing sectors.
  • Three times more Australians are in employment due to the resource industry than previously thought.
  • ‘Direct employment’ in the resource extraction sector, as measured by the ABS, accounts for only one-third of total resources employment.

What is the industry's labour demand?+

During what is widely referred to as the ‘resources construction boom’ – which involved an unprecedented level of investment in new resource projects – a significant number of workers were required to plan and build some of the world’s largest mining, oil and gas projects, right here in Australia.

In turn, the Australian resource industry workforce experienced rapid growth within a relatively short period, increasing by almost 100,000 workers between May 2010 and May 2012 (ABS). During this time, critical skills shortages were experienced across many occupational groups, particularly trades and professional roles such as engineers and geologists.

Now, many of these major resource projects are shifting from the labour-intensive construction phase into long-term production. As such, the industry’s labour and skills demands are evolving, characterised by smaller workforces with specialised operations skills.

It’s also important to note that although investment and expansion has tapered over the past couple of years – due in part in falls in commodity prices – employment in the resource industry is still more than double what it was 10 years ago.


What is the resource industry's wealth creation?+

The resource industry has been responsible for a huge level of wealth creation and transfer over the past decade.

According the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the resource industry is the highest paying industry in Australia on average, with full-time workers receiving an average $2,597.30 per week (excluding overtime and bonuses). That’s more than $135,000 per year.

Estimates by Deloitte Access Economics show the mining industry contributed more than $20 billion in company tax and royalties in 2013-14, while the Australian Government’s latest medium-term forecasts project average annual earnings growth of 6% for our resources and energy commodities between 2014-15 and 2019-20 when they’ll reach $240 billion.

What contribution does the resource industry make to training and workforce development?+

A 2013 study by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) found the minerals sector alone spent $1.15 billion on training in 2011/12.

Of the 11,000 apprentices and trainees employed at the time of the study, 20% were over 21 years of age, 15% were female and 13% were Indigenous.

When taking into account the $200bn oil and gas sector, the wider industry’s contribution to workforce training and development would be even greater.

What is the state of Migrant Workforces in the Australian resource industry?+

While the vast majority of new mining jobs are filled by Australian people, skilled migration remains a small, but very important part of Australia’s resource industry workforce.

457 Visas

The 457 visa scheme allows highly skilled, temporary migrant workers to fill critical shortages in specific occupational groups.

457 visa holders are sponsored for a particular project, are paid at Australian labour market rates, must obtain medical insurance and pay taxes.

According to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, the Australian mining industry accounted for only 2.5% of primary 457 visas granted in the year to December 31, 2015. This represents a 45.3% drop in applications from the prior 12 months, showing the program is responsive to changing skills demands in the industry.

An Edith Cowan University research report into 457 visa workers in the Western Australian resource industry, found that the initial cost in sourcing and recruiting temporary skilled migrants can reach $65,000 per worker, highlighting that employers hire skilled migrants as a last resort and only to supplement gaps in the domestic workforce.

What's happening with women in the resource industry workforce?+

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (August 2016), women represent 15% of the direct resources workforce. This compares to around 46% of the total Australian workforce.

This is an area the industry is working hard to improve.

In 2011, AMMA partnered with the Australian government to create the Australian Women in Resources Alliance (AWRA). AWRA is implementing strategies and services to increase the number of women in resources to 25% by 2020.

Learn more about AWRA.

What's happening with Indigenous training and employment?+

According to Australian Census data, the resource industry employs the highest proportion of Indigenous workers in relation to its total workforce at 3.1 per cent, compared with the all industries average of 1.4 per cent.

Based on the latest available census data (2011), there were 7,214 Indigenous workers employed in the Australian resource industry.

More information on Indigenous employment in the resource industry can be found in the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA) report Resource Sector Skills Needs 2013.

What are the stats on FIFO/DIDO work practices?+

Fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) and drive-in, drive-out (DIDO) work practices continue to play an important role in the sustainability of mining operations and such working arrangements suit both employers and employees.

In Australia, FIFO work practices generally commenced in the 1960s with rapid growth seen since the 1970s as air travel became more affordable and available.

According to a 2011 AMMA survey, 87% of respondents use FIFO work practices and 52% of respondents use DIDO work practices. The vast majority were from Western Australia and Queensland.

Where does the resource sector stand on health and well-being issues?+

A 2013 Safe Work Australia (SWA) report showed that the mining industry accounted for 0.6% of the mental stress claims across all industries. The highest percentage of claims was found in health and community services (20.5%).

Notwithstanding this, the mental wellbeing of all resource workers remains a priority for employers. Many go well beyond what is required under strict workplace health and safety laws.

Resource employers consider workplace health and safety to be front and centre of their operations and mental health is part of those considerations.

Work in the resource industry, including the FIFO/DIDO lifestyle, does not suit everyone and many companies go to great lengths to ensure people are selected appropriately at the recruitment stage.

Once in the workforce, employees are supported through a range of policies, practices and initiatives, including:

  • Access to telecommunications to stay in contact with families
  • Information about support organisations such as beyondblue and Lifeline
  • Counselling services
  • Monitoring for signs of distress
  • Family-friendly work days
  • Health and wellbeing coaches
  • Formal policies and procedures to respond to depression, alcohol and drug abuse, and relationship issues
  • Employee assistance and financial planning advice
  • Regular cultural and wellbeing surveys

Other risks such as fatigue and drug and alcohol use are those which employers continuously monitor and address.