Coal and mining exploration sees jobs boom despite COVID-19 pandemic pressures | Ralph-Lauren

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Mining across Australia has seen a boom in activity in recent months, with several parts of the industry recording growth in job vacancies.

Coal industry jobs in Queensland saw a 40 per cent rise last quarter, while unemployment among geoscientists dropped to its fourth lowest level in 10 years.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data showed the state had 78,000 jobs in the resources sector, the highest since 2013 according to Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane.

“There’s some great not only job opportunities, but career opportunities for Queenslanders.”

A coal truck driving down the a dirt road
The Queensland Resources Council says the coal industry’s employment boom sees it with 78,000 jobs, the highest since 2013.(ABC TV News)

Geoscientists in demand

According to the Australian Institute of Geoscientists, the unemployment rate within its ranks fell from from 10.5 per cent to 4.5 per cent in the final quarter of 2020.

President Andrew Waltho said exploration companies in Western Australia and Queensland were the two heavy lifters in the job market.

“While those restrictions have been in place, they’ve been planning exploration work.

“We’re going into a period where metal prices seem to be pretty robust, particularly the gold price, and that always sparks renewed interest in exploration.”

Big piece of machinery on a mine site
The Australian Institute of Geoscientists says during the COVID-19 restrictions companies started planning exploration work.(Flickr: SaveTheMachine9W)

Ageing workforce

Mr Waltho said the industry had concerns a skills shortage was looming.

“We’re getting down to employment levels where that could be an issue,” he said.

“So we lose some professionals from the industry, who take a while to come back when conditions improve if they decide to come back.”

Mr Waltho said the number of geoscience graduates had fallen, which resulted in an “ageing of the talent pool”, but that was unlikely to impact the industry immediately.

Two men wearing high-vis working in remote bushland.
There are fears demand for the geoscientists, particularly from the mining industry, could create a skills shortage.(ABC Goldfields: Jarrod Lucas)

Demand in resources

AWX chief executive Tom Reardon said with an uptick in demand for workers last quarter, the group was struggling to fill the vacancies.

“You’ve also got large infrastructure projects as well which draws people out of those regional areas and into the city on similar dollars which makes it difficult for those regional areas.”

Mr Reardon said access to mines last year was difficult due to border closures and on-the-ground restrictions.

He said companies had adapted well.

“The response in how to manage it and the processes and procedures are making it a lot easier,” he said.

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