Expats are often in high demand and because they need to be tempted away from their comfortable happy lives to move to a different country often on the other side of the world, expat salaries are often substantially higher than what nationals will earn, even though they may be doing the same job in many regions worldwide.

This can and does cause resentment.

Can you imagine finding out your work colleague who does exactly the same job as you, earns in some cases double what you do? And to add insult to injury they are entitled to all sorts of benefits that you do not qualify for such as paid accommodation, health insurance and in many cases their kids private school fees even being paid. And to make things even worse they are in some cases no more qualified than you are to do the job.

This can cause some serious resentment, and it happens in all industries including mining, where expats can earn far more than national employees. One can argue that expats play a vital role, that they bring with them essential tools, help mentor and build the capacity of local staff, and have a very firm grasp and understanding of the mining industry, all true, but it seems that national employees are in many instances being given the short end of the stick when it comes to remuneration and that their salaries need to be reassessed and more in line with what expats are earning.

I thought it would be an idea to see how exploration expat salaries in mining in recent years compare to national salaries in South America.

The details below all taken from the 2014 International Compensation Guidelines for Mining Exploration. The data from the study the result of two surveys, each focusing on employment in the mining industry. The first survey InfoMine USA Inc. contacted human resource and exploration managers in mining exploration and corporate offices for their wages and salaries. Fifty-seven exploration offices responded to the survey which was conducted between June 2013 and January 2014.

For the second part, the InfoMine International Mining Industry Salary Survey was conducted on the InfoMine Careers website from May 2012 through October 2012. All the respondents to this portion of the survey are individuals who provided their job title, salary, any bonuses, age, years of experience, citizenship, highest level of education achieved and where they worked. Out of this database base only those respondents that indicated they were working in exploration were used.

According to the data obtained from the InfoMine International Mining Industry Salary Survey, expatriate exploration managers in 2014 working in  Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Guyana and Peru were all earning more than national exploration managers. The exception was Chile where nationals earned fractionally higher salaries than expatriates.


Expatriate exploration geologists with a minimum of 20 years work experience, were also in 2014  earning more than national exploration geologists in Brazil, Colombia and Peru. However, as with exploration managers it appears that national exploration geologists based in Chile, were earning more than expatriates.


Expatriate exploration geologists with 6 – 20 years experience based in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru were all earning more than the national exploration geologists in these countries.


Among the more junior expatriate exploration geologists which included those with 1 – 5 years experience, those working in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru were earning more than the nationals for those countries, however Ecuador and Guinea nationals were earning more than those in expatriate positions.


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