Minerals Council of Australia
The MCA is the leading advocate for Australia’s world class minerals industry, promoting and enhancing sustainability, profitability and competitiveness.
Australia’s minerals industry is innovative, technologically advanced, capital intensive, and environmentally and socially progressive. The industry is a major contributor to national income, investment, jobs, exports and government revenues in Australia.
The minerals industry is an exciting and dynamic sector with a diverse range of highly skilled, highly paid jobs.
Advances in technology are making our industry safer, more competitive and more sustainable. The Australian minerals industry is rapidly adopting new technology such as robotics, drones, data science and virtual and augmented reality, creating a different skills mix for our future workforce.
Future working arrangements will be more flexible, providing further incentive for prospective applicants from more diverse backgrounds to consider a career in the mining industry. There will also be greater collaboration, creativity, and social science skills to deal with changing community expectations.
We put together Australia’s first More to Mining Careers Guide, available to download on our website, to show the world the highly skilled, highly paid job opportunities on offer in our worldleading minerals industry.
This includes cutting-edge roles in innovative tech-driven fields such as data scientists and mechatronic engineers, as well as new opportunities for the existing workforce to upskill and take on new roles.
The Careers Guide provides young people and their families with information on these roles and what the mining industry has to offer, and provides information on the different pathways into the industry.
We attract the best people who want a diverse and challenging career to last a lifetime. You can change roles as your career expands, and travel Australia and the world to work with great people in interesting locations.
Careers in the Minerals Industry
Mining is essential to modern life
Australia already has the most diverse and abundant mineral reserves in the world – and there is still so much more of the country to explore. We are using more minerals and metals than ever. From the gold in your iPad to the iron, chromium and nickel in your stainless steel fridge, from the bauxite that made the aluminium in the plane that takes you on holidays to the lithium that powers your phone and electric car, mining provides many of the things in modern life. Check out the 30 Things booklet to learn more.
First-class people for a world-class industry
There’s no doubt we have an outstanding workforce in Australian mining. Mining gives 240,000 Australians a job. And when you take into account the Mining Equipment, Technology and Services sector, which provides vital support to mining and minerals processing, the industry provides jobs for about 1.1 million people. Our miners are younger than the all-industries average, highly paid, highly skilled and totally committed to being the best in the world at what they do. They also look after the environment, their mates and put a huge amount back into their local communities.
Diversity & Inclusion
The minerals industry recognises that diverse teams are more productive, innovative and creative. The minerals industry is one of the largest private sector employers of Indigenous Australians and companies are working hard to close the gender equality gap in employment and remuneration. Future working arrangements will also be more flexible – people might want to live away from site and work at a Remote Operations Centre, offering people with disabilities a chance to enter the minerals industry.
Tomorrow’s world today
Within five years, 77 per cent of jobs in Australian mining will be different thanks to technology. Across the mining process – from exploration through to operations, processing, transport and trading – technology is transforming the way we mine. In some industries, that would mean losing jobs to robots and automation. In mining, technology means safer and more productive jobs. Most jobs in mining will be enhanced by technological innovation. This means if you’re interested in robotics and automation, mining could be for you!
Australia’s minerals industry is an exciting and vibrant sector, with so many different jobs and opportunities on offer for school leavers, apprentices and trainees, tradespeople and university graduates. The modern mining industry is much more than just big machines, hard hats and high vis. Geologists and mechanics, engineers and environmental scientists, accountants and drone pilots are just a snapshot of the careers on offer. As the industry continues to evolve to meet the needs of a rapidly changing world, one thing remains constant – the need for the best people who want diverse and challenging careers to last a lifetime.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is mining a safe profession?
Safety is the number one priority for the minerals industry.
Australia is an international leader in mine safety research and technologies, leading the way with virtual training facilities and mining software. Safety and health are prioritised in all operations.
Ventilation, high-tech monitoring, protective clothing, training, certificates of competency, supervision and daily safety briefings are integral to daily mining operations.
There has been a big drop in the number of injuries recorded over the past decade.
This improvement is partly due to better precautions and training but also because, in a modern mine, fewer employees spend most of their time underground.
Isn’t it true that mining is only done in remote locations?
Mining occurs in many parts of Australia. Some mines are close to cities and regional centres, while others are in remote locations.
Many workers choose the lifestyle advantages of working remotely through fly in fly out (FIFO) or drive in drive out (DIDO) in order to get up to nine consecutive days off back home with family and friends.
Conditions are also good on the job. FIFO workers have all their food and accommodation taken care of on-site, along with recreational facilities like pools and gyms and social activities to create a community atmosphere.
If FIFO isn’t for you, the increase in “digital mining” methods such as real-time data capture, autonomous vehicles and automation mean that more mineworkers can work closer to their hometown.
Aren’t most mining jobs unskilled?
The workforce covers a range of scientific fields, professional and trade occupations with diverse skills, qualifications and experience.
Two-thirds of the mining workforce has a Certificate III or higher, 26 per cent of the mining workforce holds a university degree and more than four per cent of the workforce are currently apprentices and trainees. It’s a highly skilled workforce that increasingly needs new skills in data analytics, mathematics and even gaming.
The resources sector is the largest total employer of mining engineers, geologists and geophysicists, industrial, mechanical and production engineers, production managers, metallurgists and physicists, and the third-biggest employer of environmental scientists.
Why is the minerals industry so male-dominated?
While women currently make up around 18 per cent of the mining workforce, the industry is working hard to diversify its workforce.
For example, BHP is aiming for gender equality across its global workforce by 2025 and has started at the top. Five of its 11 senior executive roles are held by women.
Gold producer St Barbara is also working towards gender equality by 2030 and has closed the pay gap, providing flexible work conditions to recruit and retain female staff.
There are a lot more women working across all fields than in the past.
Will there be fewer mining jobs in the future because of automation?
The adoption of technology including automation and robotics is changing the way certain jobs are being done and creating new roles.
Most jobs will be enhanced because of automation and robotics. This includes improved safety for workers, more efficient work methods and innovation to improve quality.
Where automation and other technology results in jobs being lost, companies work to retrain affected employees for other roles.
What qualifications do I need to work in mining?
The qualifications you need depend on the role you want.
The MCA’s Make Your Career in Mining careers guide includes information on the qualifications you need for different roles and how you can get them.
In addition to qualifications and depending on the company and location where you work, you may also need specific vehicle licences, security and medical clearances.
Does mining offer long-term career opportunities?
Yes. The minerals industry offers many interesting and rewarding long-term career opportunities.
Almost all jobs in mining (95 per cent) are full-time roles. The roles in mining are diverse and there are opportunities to upskill and transition to new roles.
As innovations like automation and robotics influence some changes in operations, new roles will be developed.
The Make Your Career in Mining careers guide has lots of examples of the different long-term career opportunities offered by Australia’s world-leading minerals industry.
Isn’t the mining boom over?
Reports claiming the mining boom is over have misled some Australians about what is really happening in the industry.
The minerals industry has undergone a period of significant expansion in the last decade.
A period of massive investment supported many construction jobs in the industry as new mines, processing plants and infrastructure were built.
Now that these projects have been built, Australia is producing new record volumes of iron ore, coal, bauxite, gold and lithium.
This production phase of the boom will last for a much longer period as mines typically take a few years to build but can run for well over 20 years.
These operating mines are now offering many new positions in the industry.
Most of the things we use in daily life are made from mined materials. With global population growth and rapidly escalating demand for energy and infrastructure, we are using more minerals and metals than ever.
So you can expect the appetite for our world-class Australian resources to remain strong.
Are mining workers paid well?
Yes. Mining jobs are the highest paid jobs in Australia. Median weekly earnings for mining workers were $2,325 in 2020, double the median for all industries ($1,150 a week).
With world-class educational options available for students, why do you think Australia is experiencing a decline in mining-related enrolments?
Australian mining companies invest heavily in training and certification offering frequent opportunities to upskill, on and off-site. The industry has one of the youngest and most highly skilled workforces in Australia.
However, there is an ongoing need to engage young Australians as they are choosing their future careers – and encourage them to look at the exciting opportunities that mining offers.
The MCA is working hard to connect with more young people and increase the level of awareness about the new careers in mining resulting from technological change – for both the development of the next generation of miners as well as re-skilling our current workforce into the jobs of the future.
To meet this challenge, the Australian minerals industry spends more on training per employee than most industry sectors (5.5 per cent of payroll), including more than $50 million of direct investment in higher education over the past decade.
What can the industry and educational institutions do to help attract more young people?
Australia’s minerals industry has one of the youngest and most highly skilled workforces in Australia.
The MCA helps vocational and higher educational institutions collectively showcase the diverse careers on offer in the resources sector including mining engineering, data science, environmental science and accounting.
We need to continually invest in apprentices, graduates, interns and cadets, to encourage them to not only commence employment in our industry but to enjoy a life-long career. A career might not be with just one company or in just one skill, but one that is adaptable and embraces the learning approach that underpins our industry’s future.
We also need to prioritise investment in the development of new courses in those areas of STEM that we have traditionally left for others to do. Future university degrees will need to have a mix of the latest scientific, technical and trade skills along with interpersonal skills including collaboration, team building, communication and creativity.
Why is it crucial to ensure mining education and training is agile and innovative?
Technology is changing rapidly, so the development, nurturing and sustaining of our people has to change.
Work by EY commissioned by the MCA provides a comprehensive examination of future skills and training and technology trends in the Australian minerals industry.
The key finding by EY is that 77 per cent of jobs in Australian mining will be enhanced or redesigned due to technology within the next five years.
Workers will need to share and communicate, design and collaborate, and operate in autonomous teams. These so-called ‘soft skills’ are becoming more important in the workplace.
EY identified the gains are potentially significant: overall productivity could increase by as much as 23 per cent in Australia by 2030 through the combination of up to $35 billion of investment and, most importantly, a co-investment of up to $13 billion in education and skills development.
How have mining-related courses adapted over the past decade to manage the industry’s needs?
Technology adoption through robotics and artificial intelligence to increase productivity in the industry has become a significant feature of the Australian mining sector.
The MCA has created the Minerals Industry National Associate Degree (MINAD) which recognises the need for para-professional qualifications allowing workers wanting to upskill and take on new opportunities with their employer.
Mining is leading by example through collaborations like Rio Tinto’s $2 million investment with South Metropolitan TAFE and the Western Australian Government to deliver high-tech courses in automation for the first time in Australia. These are nationally recognised qualifications and the first to provide pathways to emerging jobs in the area of automation.
What should prospective students be made aware of prior to entering the industry?
Australian mining provides the opportunity for students to build long and exciting careers in the resources sector – with 256,000 people employed in highly paid, highly skilled jobs.
The resources sector is the largest total employer of mining engineers, geologists, industrial, mechanical and production engineers. Mining is also the third-biggest employer of environmental scientists in Australia.
Average earnings in the resources sector stand at around $140,000 a year, more than 64 per cent higher than the average for all industries in Australia.
With a production boom now underway to meet the growing global demand for energy and infrastructure students can expect the appetite for our world-class Australian resources to remain strong. Job opportunities are also expanding, with more than 17,000 new roles in mining, resources and energy created since 2018.
Why is it crucial for mine companies operating in Australia to up-skill their current workforce?
Our people are our industry’s most important asset.
Within five years, 77 per cent of jobs in Australian mining will be different thanks to technology – and people who make the most of it.
Across the mining process – from exploration through to operations, processing, transport and trading, technology is transforming the way we mine.
In mining, technology means safer and more productive jobs.
Most jobs in mining will be enhanced by technological innovation. Surveyors, field geologists and drill operators will still be in demand, but with these jobs revolutionised by artificial intelligence, drones, driverless vehicles and remote-controlled systems
Are there any aspects of the mining industry that you don’t think will be affected by technological innovations?
Australia’s minerals industry is changing, with rates of technology adoption across the sector reshaping the skills required by the current and future workforce.
A study by EY found that 77 per cent of jobs in Australian mining will be enhanced or redesigned due to technology within the next five years.
Traditional jobs are also increasingly being augmented with new technology – for example, a shot-firer working on a drilling team will have the opportunity in Australia’s future minerals workforce to use drone technology to monitor automated rigs. Mining engineers are already upskilling to include areas such as change management and communication.
The composition of the current and future minerals workforce will continue to evolve with the increasing need for technical skills in data analytics, robotics and artificial intelligence.