If you’re looking for a job with higher than average pay and don’t have a family or you prefer to be away from your family for extended periods, now’s a fantastic time to apply to mining companies in Western Australia.
Remember the mining boom?
Let’s rewind about 5 years, every man and his dog where doing whatever it took to get work in the mines, and now, a few years on from the massive “mining boom” we saw end back in 2012, mining companies in WA are struggling to put bums on seats.
The WA mining industry from around 2012 all the way to 2016 took a violent and steep down-turn, more than 60,000 jobs were lost and full time mining work becoming as rare as hens teeth. The industry is still trying to recover, but it now seems that they’re on the up swing, with mining jobs flooding in like never before.
The new boom, maybe…
According to Seek Australia, Mining and Energy sectors are chart topping at #1 highest growth in job advertisements for 11 months running, that’s 32% more job mining ads on Seek than this time last year. If that doesn’t scream job opportunities then I don’t know what does.
Even though there’s a plethora of ads from just about every company that’s ever dug a hole in the ground to make money, and even though they’re offering salaries higher than 150k, it doesn’t mean that the average Australian wants to take the leap and become a FIFO. In fact, even skilled and experienced miners don’t appear keen.
This week the current CEO of the Chamber of Minerals and Energy in Western Australia announced his support for a new migration agreement that would see overseas mine workers flown in to take up the slack, and the agreement has provisions which provide an exemption from the skilled migrant requirements.
The aforementioned CEO, Paul Everingham, advised that there are over 1000 unfilled jobs in the Kalgoorlie mining region and that they’ve reached crisis point he said in discussion with the ABC today.
“You can’t sugar coat it. They’re (the jobs) are available now and they’re not being filled, so however you can get them All Australian companies want to employ Australians first, but if there aren’t enough Australians …
We have got to remember there’s an infrastructure boom going on in NSW. If we have to set up special immigration or work zones, our members would definitely welcome the ability to get access to skilled workers immediately.” Paul said during the interview.
Do you want a FIFO job?
WA’s mining industry is seeking staff for positions ranging from cleaners to electricians & tradies to Uni grads, so there’s something for everyone, the only downside is you’ve either got to become a FIFO or you’ve got to live in a dead end mining town… but at least the moneys good!
Obviously the issue lies in the FIFO line of work itself, with an enormous amount of these kinds of workers complaining of a poor work-life balance, not to mention the dramatically higher rates of suicide, depression, drug use and alcoholism among FIFO workers when compared to the general population. Throw in some high rates of bullying and loneliness and it’s easy to understand why these mining firms are struggling to hire and keep staff on the books.
FIFO Mental Health
So many large companies these days, including most mining companies, are constantly talking about “Zero Harm” working environments but how well does that term convey the amount of harm actually happening in the FIFO work force? Quite poorly as it would seem, despite expensive government inquiries and numerous studies the father of a FIFO worker who recently committed suicide has this to say:
“hardly anything has changed, If anything, it’s worse,” he said. Companies talk about ‘zero harm’ on their sites, yet we have FIFO workers dying. Every couple of weeks you hear of a different death, and it’s continuing.”
With the constantly rising suicide rates in the mining industry, more studies are being commissioned. A recent study that was published in the Medical Journal of Australia which surveyed 1100 FIFO workers anonymously at numerous WA mines, most of them very remote, found that about one quarter suffered from psychological issues or distress. It further found that the majority of remote mining and FIFO workers are unlikely to come forward due to the stigma associated with mental health, and only 11% of affected workers seek help.
These disturbing statistics, along with everything else discussed here provide a very good reason to avoid this industry all together until some big changes are put in place to mitigate the mental anguish.
FIFO Video Review
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.