The booming mining sector will create another 90,000 jobs by 2020, with more than half the jobs growth in WA.

The booming mining sector will create another 90,000 jobs by 2020, with more than half the jobs growth in WA.

This is a 70 per cent jump on the sector’s current employment levels.

The council is forecasting 6 per cent annual employment growth for the sector – double the Federal Government’s forecast of 3 per cent yearly growth.

The greatest demand will be for skilled trades, with the Minerals Council expecting another 31,000 skilled workers will be needed.

Demand for semi-skilled workers is expected to rise by 30,000 by 2020, and demand for mining professionals will grow by 9000.

According to the report, more than half the jobs growth will be in Western Australia, while Queensland’s minerals labour force should grow by 50 per cent and South Australia’s will more than double.

Wage pressure

The minerals industry already employs 128,000 directly, and more than 200,000 people indirectly in related industries.

There’s already a shortage of skilled workers in the industry, with the labour market running at capacity said Minerals Council chief executive Mitchell Hooke.

He said more needs to be done to increase skilled and vocational training places and to streamline temporary visa applications for skilled immigrants.

High demand is likely to lead to even better pay rates for an already lucrative sector. Workers in the industry have been well paid since the sector has taken off. Data recently released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that pay rises for mining workers have outstripped other sectors.

On average, full-time adult ordinary time earnings rose by 4.3 per cent for men and 5.0 per cent for women in the year to February, across all sectors. But average ordinary earnings for full-time mining workers rose 7.6 per cent over the year.

Wage pressure could have a negative impact on the wider economy, with the RBA warning that wage inflation could push it to hike rates further. The central bank today opted to keep the official cash rate unchanged at 7.25 per cent, but minutes from the RBA’s May meeting showed it would raise rates again if inflation kept growing.

Boom here to stay

Mr Hooke said the strength of the minerals sector was defying expectations, indicating a long term structural change rather than a short-lived boom.

“We are confident we are three years into a ‘super cycle’ if global demand for our products – a decade and more of sustained demand – which some consider could even last 20 years,” he said.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) shows a record $70.5 billion has been committed to expansion projects within the minerals sector in the next few years.


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