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For Teachers

South Australian Mining Industry

The mining industry in South Australia is dominated by copper mining and includes natural gas and uranium oxide, as well as other minerals and precious stones and metals.

The South Australian mining sector has expanded over recent years. In 2011, there were 19 major mines in operation or under construction in South Australia, compared with just five major operating mines in 2006. In line with the growth in new mines both mining related production and export activity have grown strongly. The volume of resource production in South Australia in 2010/11 was approximately 70 per cent greater than in 2003/04.
(Source: South Australian Centre for Economic Development, Media Release, June 15, 2012)

How many actual jobs are there in mining?
The Australian minerals industry’s rapid growth has led to shortages of skilled professionals, trades people and operators. Despite the current world credit crisis and downturn in the economy, the need for skilled workers remains. In fact, over the next 12 years, an additional 86,000 people will be required – over 30% of these will be tradespeople, 30% skilled operators and 10% professionals such as engineers and geologists.
There are limited jobs for unskilled and inexperienced workers.

Where are the jobs?
Most South Australian job opportunities are located onsite in the Far North of South Australia, where many of the mines are located. However not all mines in South Australia are that far away, you will find mines in the Adelaide Hills, Yorke Peninsula, Eyre Peninsula and in the Mid North. Also, all mine sites have a big administration team that are centrally located, usually in Adelaide or the metropolitan area.

What sort of people are best suited to work in the minerals industry?
While the specific skills required vary from site to site, in general, mining companies look for people who:

  • Have a positive approach to safety;
  • Have a positive, willing attitude and are ready to ‘have a go’;
  • Are in good general physical and mental health;
  • Are willing to relocate or travel to remote sites and work in sometimes harsh conditions;
  • Are ready to learn and gain more skills.

Mining operations around Australia have zero drug and alcohol tolerance.

How old do I have to be to enter the industry?
You have to be over 18 to enter a mine site, but companies prefer to employ people who have at least finished Year 12 or an equivalent vocational or university course, especially in the resources or related industries.

How much can I earn?
Industry salaries can range from $40,000 to $260,000+ depending on experience and qualifications.

Are there jobs for girls as well as boys?
Certainly. Mining companies are continually looking for more ways to attract women to work in the industry and to help them balance the pressures of children and family. Women are highly valued members of any team across the entire industry. The principles of equal opportunity for all employees, regardless of race, sex or physical disability apply across the resources sector and companies promote a diverse working environment free from discrimination or harassment.

Are there jobs for people with no experience?
Yes, but these jobs are very limited. You can be lucky and get a break if you live close to a mining operation and/or know someone working in the industry. But it is far better to get some qualifications and experience first. People with a recently acquired first aid certificate and a pre-employment medical examination, give themselves an added advantage.

What qualifications do I need if I am looking for a skilled, trade or operator position?

  • TAFE accredited Certificates – Level III or higher;
  • Heavy vehicle (HR) licence and previous experience operating heavy machinery;

General work experience in heavy industry, transport, engineering or building is also useful.

Can I earn some money in my GAP year or on university holidays?  
‘Vac Work’ is paid vacation employment for university students. Students from a number of disciplines can apply for Vac Work. If successful, they will not only gain valuable hands-on experience for which they will be paid, but they will also have the chance to build a relationship with a potential employer.

How can teachers help students make a choice about mining as a career?
Talk positively about all types of jobs and work in general.  Having a good job is self defining and part of every person’s pathway to personal fulfillment and success.
Help them to define what they are good at and what they enjoy – when they’re interested and passionate about something, it’s easier for them to gain the skills required to succeed.

It’s important that your child or student own their decisions. Being ready to make important decisions is a skill in itself – one that requires confidence. Therefore you can support them in the decision making process by making them aware of the impact of their choices and ensure they’ve seen the widest possible range of options.
Resources sector skills and career pathways.

There is a broad range of jobs available in South Australia’s mining and gas industries. This includes direct employment in roles from extraction and production through to administration and management, as well as roles in associated industries such as transport and hospitality.

If your students are interested in a career in the resources sector and would like to know about the skilling pathways associated with resources related occupations, or job suitability, the Find Your Career section of this site provides a great starting point.