Even with the downturn in mining worldwide which has seen massive job losses as a result of mining companies downsizing, putting mines into maintenance mode or closing down, it appears not all is bad for Geologists working in mining in Australia. Besides other mining professions, we know that there are a lot of Geologists who have lost their jobs worldwide and in Australia. What I thought may be of interest, was to see how this downturn has affected Geologist salaries in Australia.

The data used has been used exclusively from the CareerMine Salary Survey results, and I have shown a comparison between what Geologists were earning in 2012 and what they are now earning in 2014.

Salary Graphs
According to those who completely our salary survey, it seems that those Geologists still employed in the mining industry in Australia are faring pretty well in terms of what they are earning and that surprisingly salaries don’t seem to have dropped. Actually, if anything can be read from the results from our salary survey, salaries in some cases have risen. According to the data, Geologists with less than 5 years’ experience are earning roughly the same in 2014 as what they were earning in 2012 with a median of AUD90 000. For Geologists who are more experienced, and who fall in the 6 – 10 year range, they are earning more now, with a median of AUD128 000 in 2014, in comparison to a median of AUD110 000 in 2012. For those with 10 years plus experience, Geologists are also earning more with a earning a median of AUD156 000 in 2014, whereas the median in 2012 was AUD138 000.

Although those Geologists who are fortunate enough to still have jobs appear to be earning reasonable salaries, one must not forget those who are unemployed, and there are many. Word has it that many Geologists who were based in Australia have left in search of new opportunities in other parts of the word, because of the lack of work in Australia. The cost of living in Australia is very high, so for the unemployed it’s not a good country to be living in. For this reason, it makes sense to leave in search of greener pastures and possible job opportunities. For those that remain and are lucky enough to still have work, salaries are still good, however one needs to keep in mind that Geologists live with the fear that they may be next to stand in the unemployment line. They are generally also overworked as they are forced to cover the shortfalls in employees that are becoming more and more obvious in many mining companies. Although salaries remain good, many Geologists are overworked and very despondent.

According to the Australian Institute of Geoscientists, at the end of December 2013 nearly 1 in 5 Australian Geologists were unemployed. Although it appears that in reality since then those numbers have jumped much higher. What has also been worrying is the trend that part time employment opportunities have also been drying up. Many of those that are now unemployed are being forced to seek work in other industries or outside of the Geosciences field. This could, when the industry turns, prove to be disastrous as the pool of Geologists will shrink, which will not be good for the industry as a whole. One needs to remember that from when a mineral discovery is found to when it will become a new mine, years will go by, often more than a decade. These new mines are what will provide employment to those in mining and many related industries. So every time a project is suspended and a Geologist is forced to leave the mining industry, we face losing years of knowledge and skills which could seriously impact the resource industry as a whole in years to come.

Even though it seems that salaries are on the rise, not all is sugar and spice for Geologists working in Australia, and the mining industry needs to protect these key players to the industry and try to devise ways to not lose those who are unemployed or have moved to other industries.

2 Responses to “How the downturn in mining has affected Geologist salaries in Australia”

  1. freeman

    Of course the income of those who remain employed will go up. Then they get stressed out as they have to cover those who had to leave – Catch-22. At least they have jobs!

  2. Vancouver Geo

    Those with jobs are not going to be approached by their company to be asked to take a pay cut. They will see raises based on their companies overall salary adjustments of all staff.

    I think the statistics are flawed in that they simply take working geologists salaries for the math. If they were to average in those who, like me, spent 11 months looking for my next contract in the industry, the statistics would discourage even more young people from getting into the field.

    A word of advise to all those VPs, Presidents, CEOs and CFOs of junior mining and exploration companies who continue to get paid with the meager funds they manage to raise during this downturn while showing up at the office to do nothing but drink coffee and complain about the lack of money….Don’t EVER…EVER…question the rates charged by experienced contract geologists once investment comes back into the industry. I don’t want to hear…” Boy, you contract geologists are expensive.” Just remember the months you sat around wondering if there will be enough in the treasury to pay you salary next month while contract geos watch their savings shrink and their line of credit withdrawals go up to buy groceries. Do the math on that.

    I’m working again in exploration but in petroleum after 30 years in hardrock. It was a calculated and timely opportunity that has seen a 25% drop in my daily rate and increased expenses of having to relocate and pay living costs away from my family. It’s worth it to stay in the business.

    And when all these juniors who have retrenched into shared office space from the ivory towers of $1700 oz/Au prices return to flush coffers, call me and brace yourself for the price.


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